Sarah Moser

Sarah Moser in Saudi Arabia


Cultural and urban geography

Associate Professor in the Department of Geography

Office: Burnside Hall 413
Tel.: (514) 266-9908
Fax.: (514) 398-7437

sarah.moser [at] (E-mail)

NewCitiesLab Website

Academic background

  • PhD Geography, National University of Singapore
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Urban and Global Studies, Trinity College
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Research interests

My research examines how national, religious, and ethnic identities shape cities in Southeast Asia and the Muslim world more broadly. I am fascinated by the transnational circulation of identity, architecture and urban policy and how cities across Asia are looking elsewhere in the global south rather than to ‘the west’ for inspiration.  My current work investigates the global emergence of supra-national religious and ethnic identities and how they are manifested in urban form and used to serve secular nation-building purposes. In particular, I examine emerging pan-Islamic identity, the ‘Arabization’ of Muslim identity and the effect these broad trends are having on urban areas. Another strand of this work examines emerging ‘pan-Chinese’ identities currently circulating in Asia and how they are being manifested in cities.


Current projects

  • Cultural politics, ideology, and nation-building in new cities

  • The interplay between interpretations of Islam and the built environment (Southeast Asia, Middle East)

  • model cities, utopian planning



Shebell, Elizabeth and Moser, Sarah. (online early) Planning for the Buen Vivir: Socialism, decentralization, and urbanization in rural Ecuador. International Development Planning Review. 1-22.

Moser, Sarah. (2019) 'Rejecting and reproducing colonial urbanism in contemporary Malaysian city design'. In H. Hazel Hahn. (Ed.). Cross-Cultural Exchange in Southeast Asia and Europe in the Modern Era. Singapore: National University of Singapore Press.

Moser, Sarah. (2019) ‘Islamic cities’. In Orum, Anthony. (Ed.) The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Urban and Regional Studies. John Wiley & Sons. (5,000 words) [ISBN: 978-1-118-56845-3]

Chitti, Marco and Moser, Sarah. (online early) 'Emerging trends in urbanizing Palestine: Neglected city-builders beyond the occupation'. Urban Geography. 1-8.

Côté-Roy, Laurence and Moser, Sarah. (online early) ‘“Does Africa not deserve shiny new cities?": The power of seductive rhetoric around new cities in Africa’. Urban Studies. 1-17.

Moser, Sarah; Fauveaud, Gabriel; and Cutts, Adam. (2019) 'Montréal: Towards a post-industrial reinvention'. Cities: The International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning. 86: 125-135.

Moser, Sarah. (2019) ‘“Two days to shape the future”: A Saudi Arabian node in the transnational circulation of new cities ideas’, In Molotch, Harvey and Ponzini, Davide (Eds.) The New Arab Urban: Gulf Cities of Wealth, Ambition, and Distress. New York: NYU Press. 213-232.

Blander, Akiva; Moser, Sarah; and Avni, Nufar. (2018) 'Religio-nationalism and "soft boundaries": Urban gating in West Jerusalem and Tel Aviv'. Geoforum. 96: 227-235.

Moser, Sarah. (2018) 'Ethno- and Religio-Nationalism in Putrajaya, Taman Tamadun Islam, and Kota Iskandar: Malay(sian) national identity in contemporary urban mega-projects’, In Hagen, Joshua and Diener, Alexander (Eds.) The City as Power: Urban Space, Place, and National Identity. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Moser, Sarah. (2018) ‘Forest City, Malaysia, and Chinese expansionism’. Urban Geography. 39 (6): 935-943.

Moser, Sarah; Hendricks, Michael; and Vives, Luna. (2017) ‘Academia’s moral entanglements in the face of a racist regime’. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies. 16 (2): 1-10.

Moser, Sarah and Wilbur, Alyssa Shamsa. (2017) ‘Constructing heritage through state architecture in Indonesia’s Riau Islands’. ABE Journal - Architecture Beyond Europe. 11 (July): 1-25.

Araos, Malcolm; James Ford; Lea Berrang-Ford; Robbert Biesbroek; and Sarah Moser. (2017) ‘Climate change adaptation planning for Global South megacities: The case of Dhaka’. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning. 19 (6):682-696.

Moser, Sarah; Esther Clinton; and Jeremy Wallach. (2017) ‘Leisure activities in Southeast Asia, from pre-colonial times to the present’, In Spracklen, Karl et al (Eds.) The Palgrave Handbook of Leisure Theory. Palgrave. 107-125.

Moser, Sarah. (2016) ‘Educating the nation: Shaping student-citizens in Indonesian schools’ Children’s Geographies. 14 (3): 247-262.

Cutts, Adam and Moser, Sarah. (2015) State-community collaborative strategies to enable the right to the city in Argentina. Habitat International. 49: 243-250.

Moser, Sarah; Swain, Marian; and Alkhabbaz, Mohammed H. (2015) 'King Abdullah Economic City: Engineering Saudi Arabia's post-oil future', Cities: The International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning. 45: 71-80.

Moser, Sarah. (2014) ‘New cities: Old wine in new bottles?’ Dialogues in Human Geography. 5 (1): 31-35.

Moser, Sarah (2014) ‘Exhibition review of ‘How architects, experts, politicians, international agencies and citizens negotiate modern planning: Casablanca Chandigarh’, International Journal of Islamic Architecture. 4 (1): 209-214.

Moser, Sarah. (2013) ‘New cities in the Muslim world: The cultural politics of planning an ‘Islamic’ city’. In Religion and Place: Landscape, Politics and Piety. (Edited by Peter Hopkins, Lily Kong and Elizabeth Olson).

Moser, Sarah. (2012) ‘Circulating visions of ‘High Islam’: The adoption of fantasy Middle Eastern architecture in constructing Malaysian national identity’ Urban Studies. 49 (13) 2783-2805.

Moser, Sarah. (2012) ‘Globalization and the construction of identity in two new Southeast Asian capitals: Putrajaya and Dompak’ in Rethinking Global Urbanism: Comparative Insights from Secondary Cities. Chen, Xiangming and Kanna, Ahmed. (Eds.) New York / London: Routledge. 169-189.

Moser, Sarah. (2010) ‘Creating citizens through play: The role of leisure in Indonesiannation-building’ Social and Cultural Geography. 11 (1): 53-73.

Moser, Sarah. (2010) ‘Putrajaya: Malaysia’s new federal administrative capital’ Cities: TheInternational Journal of Urban Policy and Planning. 27 (3): 285-297.

Moser, Sarah. (2008) ‘Personality: a new positionality?’ Area. 40 (3) 383-392.