Dr Sobia Ahmad Kaker

Department of Sociology and Criminology
Dr Sobia Ahmad Kaker
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 872178

  • Location

    5A.340, Colchester Campus

  • Academic support hours

    1:00-2:00pm Mondays 2:00-3:00pm Tuesdays



I am an interdisciplinary urban studies scholar, working on the governance of everyday insecurity and uncertainty in rapidly urbanising post-colonial contexts. My PhD titled 'Enclaves as process: space, security and violence in Karachi, Pakistan' (2015) ethnographically studied social and spatial practices of governing everyday insecurity in a polarised Pakistani megacity. My ongoing research on insecurity and urban life in Pakistan has contributed to critical debates in urban sociology, criminology, and security studies. In the past 7 years, aspects of this research have been published in leading journals (Public Culture, South Asian History and Culture, Security Dialogue, The Geographical Journal), respected design publications (Harvard Design Magazine), impactful working papers and reports (Urban Uncertainty, LSE; Cities in Fragile States, DESTIN), book chapters (Columbia University Press, Routledge), Podcasts (Urban Political Podcast at Humboldt University, and Between the Lines at IDS Sussex), agenda-setting research seminars (IDS Sussex, Cambridge university) and blogs (Society and Space Forum). I am strongly committed to promoting and enabling social justice through academic research. To this end, I have recently completed a REC-GCRF funded action-research project titled ‘Uncertainty & Insecurity of Tenure: Developing Infrastructures of Care and Resistance in Islamabad, Pakistan’ (£34,172). This action-research project responded to the violent state-led eviction of working-class communities living in katchi abadis (irregular settlements) in Islamabad, the heavily-securitised Pakistani capital. It built and strengthened networks between marginal urban residents, social activists, and wider urban communities, while developing a counter narrative to state-led discourses of irregular settlement dwellers and their places of residence as ‘illegal’ and/or 'criminal'.


  • PhD Newcastle University, (2015)


University of Essex

  • Lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of Essex (1/9/2021 - present)

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Research Interests

Key words: Cities and society, Geographies of fear and insecurity, Politics of security, Governing urban crime, Criminalisation, Ordinary uncertainty, Social and spatial Inequalities, Urban Violence, Urban infrastructures, Enclaves and Enclavisation, Urban ethnography, Postcolonial and southern theories and contexts.
Open to supervise


Journal articles (5)

Akoth, SO., Anwar, N., Bathla, N., Cavalcanti, M., El‐Husseiny, M., Güney, KM., Irawaty, DT., Kaker, SA., Kihato, CW., Lawanson, T., Saguin, KK. and Simone, A., (2024). The atmospheres of massiveness: The politics and times of the maybe in Southern megaregions. The Geographical Journal. 190 (1)

Ahmad Kaker, S., (2024). Governing ‘ordinary’ uncertainty: circulating information and everyday insecurity in Karachi. Security Dialogue

Kaker, SA. and Anwar, NH., (2023). From one flooding crisis to the next: Negotiating ‘the maybe’ in unequal Karachi. Geographical Journal. 190 (1)

Zeiderman, A., Kaker, SA., Silver, J. and Wood, A., (2015). Uncertainty and Urban Life. Public Culture. 27 (2), 281-304

Kaker, SA., (2014). Enclaves, insecurity and violence in Karachi. South Asian History and Culture. 5 (1), 93-107

Book chapters (3)

Ahmad Kaker, S., (2024). How to do social research with... Infrastructure. In: How To Do Social Research With.... Editors: Coleman, R., Jungnickel, K. and Puwar, N., . Goldsmiths Press. 151- 162. 1913380424. 9781913380427

Kaker, S., Evans, J., Cugurullo, F., Cook, M. and Petrova, S., (2020). Expanding cities: Living, planning and governing uncertainty. In: The Politics of Uncertainty Challenges of Transformation. Editors: Scoones, I. and Sterling, A., . Routledge. 85- 98. 9781003023845

Kaker, SA., (2020). Responding to, or Perpetuating, Urban Insecurity? Enclave-Making in Karachi. In: Cities at War Global Insecurity and Urban Resistance. Editors: Kaldor, M. and Sassen, S., . Colombia University Press. 133- 159. 9780231185394

Reports and Papers (4)

Ahmad Kaker, S., Turi, S-H. and Rashid, A., (2021). Right to Housing: A Toolkit for Action

Ahmad Kaker, S., Zeiderman, A., Silver, J., Wood, A. and Ramakrishnan, K., (2017). Urban Uncertainty: governing cities in turbulent times

Ahmad Kaker, S., Budhani, AA., Gazdar, H. and Bux Mallah, H., (2010). The Open City: Social Networks and Violence in Karachi

Ahmad Kaker, S., Gazdar, H. and Khan, I., (2010). Buffer Zone, Colonial Enclave or Urban Hub? Quetta: Between four regions and two wars.

Media (1)

Sterling, A. and Kaker, S., Podcast: Andy Sterling (STEPS) in conversation with Sobia Kaker on COVID-19, Uncertainty and development (Sussex Development Lectures 2020/2021). Video

+44 (0) 1206 872178


5A.340, Colchester Campus

Academic support hours:

1:00-2:00pm Mondays 2:00-3:00pm Tuesdays

More about me