An Evening with Dr. Abdoumaliq Simone
Farid Rakun was able to set up a great opportunity to speak with the scholar Abdoumaliq Simone, PhD, Professor of Sociology and Urbanism at the University of London. We have read a few of his texts regarding urbanism and the people of Jakarta especially excerpts from City Life from Jakarta to Dakur.
The informal two hour discussion began by talking about the position of the poor within the government. Simone commented that typically the poor are more concerned with their daily lives and putting food on the table to enact change within the city and within their immediate circumstances. There was a movement by the youth and community leaders that were began to relook at the condition of the poor and lobby for change; however, the current climate is less concerned. However, there is a spirit within the neighborhoods of knowing who is a part of your community. The community has a sense of feeling obligated to its members in times of need. There is also a definable quality to avoid confrontation within the people’s social relations and the government according to Simone. This creates an atmosphere of avoiding issues that may be beneficial to the whole while disrupting others.
A personal question I had was in regards to the relationship of the Mosque as an institutional space affecting community involvement. Simone commented on an exchange program within Warakas where people from one Mosque went to another in order to speak on community issues. My question mainly focused on the fact that small Mosques are being constructed continuously regardless of the community’s ability to fund them, while asking for greater elaboration on the role the Mosque plays in community social networks.
Simone responded on the fact that people truly need something to do. They seek activity to better the community and one of the ways they do so is to build places of prayer. However, the Mosque represents more than a place for worship. The religious space acts as common ground where people can voice their opinions and concerns rather openly regardless of their knowledge or eligibility into any subject. Thus Mosques act as moments of information transparency or at least, they act as moments when the people can speak openly without worrying about conflicts that may arise.
Much more was discussed including the role of the preman, people who work outside of the typical social network and pierce through the system to enact contracted change. Typically these roles are similar to gangster activity, and the roles are based outside of loyalties. The preman do not operate within roles of obligation and loyalty and neighbors i.e. free radicals up for hire. What we left with and what the charge of the studio is now based is to find methods to promote communication amongst different groups of people within the community in regards to inundation. It is one thing to promote a design or method to respond to ecological issues, but the charge of addressing hypercomplexity seeks a response that can enable community interaction in a spatialized construction.