Smuts Memorial Lecture: Compositions in the Crossfire in Cities of the Near-South​

7 November 2017, 17:15 - 19:00

Large lecture theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

This lecture is part of the Smuts Memorial Lecture Series Afterlives of the South: Relations Across the Urban Postcolony, and is free and open to all. BOOK YOUR TICKET HERE.



Smuts Memorial Lecture Series
Lecture One: Compositions in the Crossfire in Cities of the Near-South
Speaker: AbdouMaliq Simone (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity)


The social as experiential milieu is matter of combining whatever is at hand whether the elements seem to go together or not; combining ways of tying things down and letting things go. Combinations reflect expenditures of effort, of an often inexplicable affording of interest, enthusiasm, and patience on the part of individuals and groups to processes and events that they do not fully understand or view as relevant to them. In the context of urban life, with so many bodies, events, dimensions, and transactions to pay attention to, that touch human and non-human residents in so many varying ways, the dilemma is always one of alignment, of how one operates in the “crossfires” of such plural intersections.

 In the major metropolitan areas of a Global South simultaneously no longer yet obdurate and obscure, long-standing compositions of relations are assaulted with formatting of all kinds, which produce prolific carceral and feral modes of inhabitation. Yet, at the same time, contemporary urbanization embodies the theft of the capacity to construct intricate ways of life from limited resources, the theft of thick relationships of collaboration and care. It becomes the vehicle to give rise to the unanticipated, an excess of sociality, a purported abundance of opportunities for collaboration, the endless remaking of inhabitants, and the conversion of space into nodes of new synergies.  Value and profit are generated not so much from making things, but putting things into all kinds of relations, constantly changing what any particular thing might mean, might count for, or be used for at any particular time. Intensifying and extending this process becomes the intent of urbanization. 

• As there are three events in this Smuts Memorial Lecture Series, you might wish to attend the second and third lectures as well.