Sarah Moser

Sarah Moser in Saudi Arabia


Cultural and urban geography

Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography

Office: Burnside Hall 413
Tel.: (514) 792-5476
Fax.: (514) 398-7437

sarah [dot] moser [at] mcgill [dot] ca (E-mail)

Academic background

  • PhD Geography, National University of Singapore (2008)
  • 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

  • The interplay between interpretations of Islam and the built environment (Southeast Asia, Middle East, central Asia, North America)
  • The cultural politics of new cities in Asia
  • The post-Suharto Chinese cultural renaissance in Indonesia


Some recent publications

Cutts, A., & Moser, S. (2015). State-community collaborative strategies to enable the right to the city in Argentina. Habitat International, 49, 243-250.

Moser, Sarah; Swain, Marian; 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.

Chen, Xiangming; Moser, Sarah, and Kundu, Ratoola. (Eds.) The Research Handbook on Asian Cities. London: Edward Elgar. (40 chapters, under contract, 2016).

Moser, S. (2015). Educating the nation: shaping student-citizens in Indonesian schools. Children's Geographies, (ahead-of-print), 1-16. DOI: 10.1080/14733285.2015.1033614

Moser, Sarah. ‘Rejecting and reproducing colonial urbanism in contemporary Malaysian city design’ in Hahn, Hazel (Ed.). (forthcoming) The Circulation of Culture Between Europe and Southeast Asia. (University of Hawai’i Press).

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

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 Indonesian nation-building’ Social and Cultural Geography 11 (1): 53-73.

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

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