This essay examines the influence of uncertainty on how contemporary cities are planned, built, governed, and inhabited. This influence is demonstrated through the analysis of various domains of urban planning and governance (disaster, security, energy, and transportation) across four cities of the global South (Bogotá, Karachi, Accra, and Johannesburg). In each city, uncertainty is produced by historical conditions and productive of future possibilities.
Uncertainty and Urban Life
Austin Zeiderman is assistant professor of urban geography at the London School of Economics and Political Science and associate at LSE Cities, where from 2012 to 2014 he coordinated the Urban Uncertainty project. He holds a PhD in anthropology from Stanford University and specializes in the cultural and political dimensions of cities. His forthcoming book, Endangered City, focuses an ethnographic and historical lens on the politics of security and the governance of risk in Bogotá, Colombia.
Sobia Ahmad Kaker is a researcher at LSE Cities. An interdisciplinary scholar working on contemporary urbanism, insecurity, and political life in South Asian cities, she completed a PhD at Newcastle University with a thesis titled “Enclaves as Process: Space, Security, and Violence in Karachi.” She is also a visiting research fellow at the Center for Research and Security Studies (Islamabad).
Jonathan Silver is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Geography at Durham University. His work focuses on the politics of urban infrastructure in Ghana, Uganda, and South Africa. He was previously a member of the Urban Uncertainly project at LSE Cities.
Astrid Wood is an urban geographer specializing in city governance in the global South. She completed her PhD on peripatetic planning and the mobility of bus rapid transit through South African cities at University College London and has worked as a researcher at LSE Cities. Her work exploring policy mobilities has appeared in Environment and Planning A, the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, and Urban Geography.