Kuala Lumpur: Cyborg Alert!

‘A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism…’

(Haraway, 1991)

Borne out of a simultaneous process of social and biophysical shifts, cities are precisely such entities of man-made infrastructure layered over and within natural space. Just like her urban counterparts around the world, Kuala Lumpur as a city manifests in the form of nature transformed and still transforming in progress.

I will be exploring various aspects of KL’s political-ecological landscape in my subsequent posts.  Part of my interest in this city is personal. With most of my relatives calling this city home, I have heard plenty of stories about living in KL and dealing with KL.


I took this photo (and the photo featured above) from the viewing gallery of the Petronas Twin Tower. From this angle you can see the varied features defining KL: the low-rise settlements from KL’s pre-colonial times, KL’s high-rise financial and administrative buildings, and suburban residential towns in the background (some nestled within the hills).

One theme consistently stands out in these accounts – KL has been aggressively developing through mega-infrastructural projects, and is in no hurry to slow down. It is within this context of ambitious upgradings that a range of UPE-related issues have revealed themselves – from power-laden negotiations of who dictates how and where development-driven changes take place, to how unevenly the brunt of resulting consequences are borne by different groups in the city.

Drawing on these stories, I hope to reconcile my presumptions and imagination of KL’s state of flux and its socio-spatial outcomes with the UPE concepts  I encountered in class.

[175 words]

Read more from my sources:

  1. Haraway, D. (1991)  “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century”, Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge

Published by

Chin Lee

University College London Undergraduate Year 3 GEOG3076 Urban Political Ecology Module

5 thoughts on “Kuala Lumpur: Cyborg Alert!”

  1. Hi Chinyee!

    Having never visited KL (even though it’s just across the border of Singapore) I’m really excited to find out more about the myriad socio-spatial processes that interacts with and shapes this city! Despite KL and Singapore being ‘neighbours’, I’m sure there will be many differences between each cities’ urbanisation process and I’m looking forward to knowing more through your sharing (:


    1. Hi Yi Ming!

      I’m excited to explore the differences as well! Just in terms of physical geography, KL already faces a whole different suite of challenges (mountain ranges, river drainage basin etc), not to mention the different political structures that govern the city. Singapore’s such a unique case, being a city-state, and it really will be interesting for our readers to note how much two cities can diverge after breaking up into two independent countries (Tale of two cities right there!).

      On a side note, we should really take a day trip out to KL coming summer! I’d love to show you around!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Chinyee,

    Knowing that you are of (somewhat complex) Singapore-Malaysia heritage, it shall be interesting for you to explore the capital of your country of origin and what contrasting views that you will be able to offer on this! Having visited KL up to 4 times and having many Malaysian friends will also make it an interesting set of reads for me, and will hopefully allow me to have bring up some more points for discussion with my friends!

    Many Thanks! Joey


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s