Urban and Urbanization

Standing by the promise: Acts of anticipation in Rio and Jakarta

Cities are promising machines always holding out prospects for better lives, always attempting to guarantee that things will not remain the same and that whatever changes do ensue are for the better. We propose a notion of “promise” not as simply another descriptor in a long line of adjectives about the city. Rather, we argue that the urban institutional landscape constantly generates new promises as way of anticipation, which in turn allows residents to write themselves into select urban operations. This article engages two central districts in Rio de Janeiro and Jakarta to explore how residents “stand by” the promise, not of passive waiting, but as maneuvers of either staying tuned to or as way of tactical detachment from the multiple trajectories which have been conjured up in the here and now. We understand these maneuvers as acts of “minor” future making that rely upon practices and materials that may seem of little use, but which enable a process of incremental small adjustments and collective subversion of urban trajectories of the transitory.

more articles from

Volume 39 Issue 4

Explore our Topics

Though not an exhaustive list, these are many of the main areas we cover.