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Making Security Work for the Majority: Reflections on Two Districts in Jakarta



Global urban theory has placed increased emphasis on the ways in which residents from different walks of life have created heterogeneous spaces, livelihoods and political sensibilities. Much of this analysis deals with the importance of discernible forms of belonging, organization, and identity as the tools through which relationships among residents and spaces are managed and secured. For residents of mixed income, mixed use areas of the urban cores of megacities in the so-called Global South, securing livelihoods have also depended upon sensibilities and practices that open up multiple venues of collaboration among distinct backgrounds, capacities, and interests. They have relied upon intricate local political and social practices that foster more diffuse and uncertain intersections—where time, effort, money, and affiliation are “untied” from their usual social anchors. Taking the phenomena of sporadic explosions of violence in Tanah Tinggi and the everyday piecing together of “nationhood” in Kramat Sentiong—two neighboring districts in central Jakarta—the article explores ways in which it is possible for localities to sustain a plurality of livelihoods and initiatives.