Skip to main content
KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico


Umar Al Faruq is a PhD researcher at the Department of Geography, interested in exploring how new forms of urbanisation are taking place in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Particularly, he is looking at how Nusantara, Indonesia's new capital city, came to be in the first place and by extension introduces new dynamics of urbanisation in the region.

He is a recipient of the London Arts & Humanities Partnership Doctoral Training Partnership (LAHP DTP) studentship, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Umar holds an MPhil in Human Geography from the University of Oslo and a BSc in Urban and Regional Planning from Bandung Institute of Technology.


Thesis title: 'Brave New City: Urban Technopolitics in the Production of the Capital City of Nusantara'

In late 2019, Indonesia announced that it will build a new capital city in East Kalimantan. Named Nusantara, it has attracted both praise and criticism for a plethora of reasons. Official justifications for its construction range from current capital Jakarta’s deterioration to a more even development of eastern Indonesia. During a conjuncture in which new cities are being built alongside the development and urbanisation of technological capital in facilitating rentier practices i.e. smart urbanism, Nusantara is symptomatic of such broader processes while maintaining a front of developmentalist ambition. How, then, did Nusantara came to fruition?

The research aims to identify the co-constitutive processes involved in the production of Nusantara. This involves exploring how the megaproject is being imagined, driven, contested, or otherwise shaped by different actors and how certain urban imaginaries are produced and prioritised over others. The study will draw on and advances key debates in the fields of developmental urbanism, technopolitics, and Gramscian geography.

It aims to increase critical spatial understanding of new forms of urbanisation in an increasingly multi-polar global capitalist order and the transformative role non-elite experts/actors may play in them. Such understandings will hopefully produce novel insights for those interested in Southern geographies and urbanisation.

PhD supervision

  • Principal supervisor: Majed Akhter
  • Secondary Supervisor: Alex Loftus

Further details

See Umar's research profile