Urban and Urbanization

Maximum exposure: Making sense in the background of extensive urbanization

Building upon notions of extended urbanization, the essay reflects on the sensory implications of what it means when urbanization becomes extensive, i.e. when decision-making is subject to a multiplicity of forces that make coherent narratives about what is taking place problematic, while “extending” an enlarged field of opportunities as well as constraints for individual livelihoods. As many residents of Jakarta provisionally settle in distant peripheries and eke out an uncertain endurance in urban core working class districts, while operating across larger swathes of territory in search of opportunity, increased reference is made to the background. This is not only a diffuse, uncertain object of residents’ attention but a strategic way of sensing how their everyday lives are being folded in to multiple disparate trajectories of urban remaking and a concrete terrain of operations. As such the essay, through an engagement with residents in one of Jakarta’s long existing working class districts, explores what it means to inhabit the processes rather than places of urbanization and how their experiments with new ways of being exposed to all that the city may posit opens up new itineraries for navigating the city, yet also holds together a sense of purpose and well-being.

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Volume 37 Issue 6