Urban Humans

Today over half of the world’s expanding population live in cities. What does this mean for being an ‘urban human’? Answering this question requires knowledge of how technological, environmental, biological and political changes affect urban life. It is also necessary to understand how urban humans are imagined and how these framings inform city processes.

The theme advances our understanding of the distinctive nature of the 21st Century ‘urban human’ and examines implications for policy-making, planning and design.

Research Questions
–    Do assistive technologies and architectures extend human capacities and functionality beyond existing human norms?
–    How does urban life shape the corporeality and physical/mental health of bodies and does this produce a distinctive type of urban human?
–    Does the need to live with others and deal with tensions, generate questions about specifically ‘urban’ human rights?
–    What survival strategies are needed for the marginalised urban human that improvises on the edge of the formal economy?

The team

Director: AbdouMaliq Simone

UI Members: Michele Lancione | Jonathan Silver

Associates: Anant Maringanti, Hyderabad Urban Lab | Prasad Shetty, School of Environment and Urbanism Mumbai | Rodrigo Castriota, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil | Miya Irawati, National University of Singapore | Teresa Caldeira, University of Berkeley, California | Gautam Bhan, Indian Institute for Human Settlements | Kelly Gillespie, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town



Book Chapters

Journal Articles

Research projects

Coordination of the Urban Institute September School. A series of three workshops in September 2020 focussing on critical themes of urban inhabitation.

Jointly coordinated Seminar Series with ‘Life at the Margin’s research theme:

  • Dwelling in Liminalities: Uncanny Conversations Spring 2020
  • The Urban Human: Conundrum and Interstices Winter-Spring 2019

An International Urban Convocation on Cities and Covid-19. A monthly gathering of urban researchers around the world to conduct personal discussions centered on the implications of the pandemic on urban research and engagement.

Coordination of the Sheffield Desk on Urban Popular Economy. A clearinghouse for research popular economy, network building, collaborative research, popular publications and seminars.

Co-coordinator, with Columbia University Projects of the Network of Southern Urbanisms.


of the Earth’s surface has been urbanised


people currently living in urban areas


Number of people who voluntarily wear an electronic tracking device such as a smartphone


Approximately of global GDP is generated in cities