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Abidin Kusno

Abidin Kusno



PhD Art History, Binghamton University
MA Art History, Binghamton University
BA Architecture, Petra University

Research Keywords

Indonesia; Architecture; Cultural Studies; History; Politics; Urban Studies.

Abidin Kusno

Contact Information

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, ON M3J 1P3

416 736 2100

Research Interests

I joined York as a Professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies in 2015. Before my arrival at York, I was the Canada Research Chair in Asian Urbanism and Culture at the Institute for Asian Research at the University of British Columbia. I also held previous positions at New York University and Binghamton University, State University of New York. My academic background is in Architectural Design and Engineering (BA from Petra University, Surabaya, Indonesia) and Art History (MA and PhD from SUNY Binghamton).

My academic work draws upon a range of fields including urban studies, history, politics, cultural studies, architecture, design and geography.  My research focuses on Indonesia, especially Jakarta and evolves around the issues of politics, culture and the built environment. I examine the ways in which architecture and urban space shaped politics, environments and political consciousness of different social groups at different moments in the country’s urban history. My teaching encompasses issues around politics, planning and urbanization in the context global and local power

My books include: Visual Cultures of the Ethnic Chinese in Indonesia (2016, Rowman & Littlefield); After the New Order: Space, Politics and Jakarta (2013, Hawaii University Press); Appearances of Memory: Mnemonic Practices of Architecture and Urban Form in Indonesia (2010, Duke University Press); and Behind the Postcolonial: Architecture, Urban Space and Political Cultures in Indonesia (2000, Routledge).

Research Projects

Inundation and Environmental Politics in Southeast Asia (2016-2020/21), Role: PI: Kusno’s SSHRC-funded research builds on the insights of current scholarship from critical geography and anthropology of infrastructure to make sense of a social formation (such as Jakarta) in which environmental degradation, informality and lack of planning have led to both disaster and opportunities as well as modes of governing society.

Research Output

Monograph in English

Visual Cultures of the Ethnic Chinese in Indonesia. Rowman & Littlefield International, 2016.

After the New Order: Space, Politics and Jakarta. Honolulu: Hawaii University Press, 2013.

Appearances of Memory: Mnemonic Practices of Architecture and Urban Form in Indonesia. Durham: Duke University Press, 2010.

Behind the Postcolonial: Architecture, Urban Space and Political Cultures in Indonesia. London and New York: Routledge, 2000.

“Reframing the Vernacular and Other Tales,” in Reframing the Vernacular: Politics, Semiotics, and Representation. Gusti A Made Suartika & Julie Nichols (eds) Springer, 2019: 1-12.

“Escape from Jakarta?” Current History, Vol. 118, issue 809, September 2019.

“Foreword: Exemplary Centre and Beyond,” Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 60, 1, 2019: 3-6.

“Middling urbanism: the megacity and the kampung,” Urban Geography, 2019. DOI: 10.1080/02723638.2019.1688535

“Provisional Notes on Semi-Urbanism,” Routledge Handbook for Urbanization in Southeast Asia, edited by Rita Padawangi. London: Routledge, 2018: Chapter 6.

“Where Will the Water Go?” Indonesia, 105, April 2018: 19-51.

“Jakarta: A Conversation with Abidin Kusno,” in Jakarta: Claiming Spaces and Rights in the City, edited by Jorgen Hellman, Marie Thynell and Roanne van Voorst. London: Routledge, 2018: 214-232. 

“The Political Ecologies of Housing in Indonesia,” in Trends and Issues in Housing in Asia: Coming of an Age, edited by Urmi Sengupta and Annapurna Shaw. NY: Routledge, 2018: 68-88.

“Kampung, Buitenwijken and Kota Mandiri: Naming the Urban Fringe on Java, Indonesia” (with Freek  Colombijn) In What’s in a Name? Talking about ‘Suburbs’, edited by Richard Harris and Charlotte Vorms. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017: 152-172.

“Southeast Asia: Colonial Discourses,” and “Postcolonial Southeast Asia,” in Routledge Handbook of Planning History, edited by Carola Hein. London: Routledge, 2017: Chapter 17: 218-239; Chapter 18: 230-243.

“Tradition and Its Aftermath: Jakarta’s Urban Politics,” in Whose Tradition? Nezar Alsayyad, Mark Gillem, and David Moffat (eds). NY: Routledge, 2017: 20-41.

“The Order of Messiness: Notes from an Indonesian City.” In Messy Urbanism: Understanding the “Other” Cities of Asia. Edited by Manish Chalana and Jeffrey Hou, Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2016: 40-60

“Invisible Geographies in the Study of Islamic Architecture,” International Journal of Islamic Architecture, 5, 1, 2016.

“Power and Time Turning: The Capital, the State and the Kampung in Jakarta,” International Journal of Urban Sciences, 19, 1, 2015: 53-63.

“Jakarta’s City Hall: A Political History,” in City Halls and Civic Materialism: Towards a Global History of Urban Public Space, edited by Swati Chattopadhyay and Jeremy White. London: Routledge, 2014: 255-275.

Recognition & Awards

  • Canada Research Chair Tier II
  • Senior Visiting Research Fellow, Asian Research Institute, National University of Singapore
  • Research Fellow, Swedish Collegium for Advanced Studies, Uppsala, Sweden
  • Early Career Senior Scholar, Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, University of British Columbia


Course CodeTitle
GEOG 5700 3.00
(cross listed with ANTH 5500 3.0 / CMCT 6136 3.0 / HIS 5480 3.0 / HUMA 6135 3.0 / SOCI 6745 3.0)
The Making of Asian Studies: Critical Perspectives (Winter 2020)
ENVS 3227 3.00Urban Planning and Politics in Global Context (Fall 2020)
ENVS 4223 3.00Global Cities (Fall 2019)