Samuel (Sam) Nowak

Samuel (Sam) Nowak

Graduate Student



Urban geography, economic geography, transportation geography, geographical political economy, platform studies, Indonesia


2017  M.A., Geography, UCLA

Thesis: “The Regulation of Urban Mobility Regimes: A Conjunctural Approach”

2013  B.A. with honors, Geography, summa cum laude, University of Washington


I am interested in the geographical political economy of transportation-- how transportation infrastructure becomes a site for political and economic struggles over urban space: which mode to prioritize, how the city is structured to accommodate various systems, and the social relations of power that legitimize different modes and enroll support for them. My current project examines the rise of ride-hailing platforms in Jakarta, Indonesia. Using qualitative and ethnographic methods, I investigate how these platforms are transforming labor politics, informal transportation, and urban governance in the city, asking what these changes can tell us about platform capitalism in cities of the Global South. 

Selected Publications

Nowak, S., T. Howard (forthcoming). “Ethnography in the boundary zones: on Robert Fairbanks’ How it works.” In Urban Studies Inside-Out: Theory, Method, Practice (eds.) Helga Leitner, Jamie Peck, and Eric Sheppard. Sage Publications.

Howard, T., S. Nowak, Jahn-Verri, F. (forthcoming). “Ethnographic Exchanges: On Philippe Bourgois’ In Search of Respect.” In Urban Studies Inside-Out: Theory, Method, Practice (eds.) Helga Leitner, Jamie Peck, and Eric Sheppard. Sage Publications.

Leitner, H., S. Nowak (2018). “Making Multi-Racial Counter-Publics: Toward Egalitarian Spaces in Urban Politics” Routledge Handbook on the Spaces of Urban Politics. (eds.) Kevin Ward, Andrew E. Jonas, Byron Miller, David Wilson. New York: Routledge.

Walter, A., K. Hankins, and S. Nowak. 2017. “The spatial solidarity of intentional neighboring” In Oosterlynck, S., Loopmans, M., and Schuermans, N. (eds.), Place, Diversity, Solidarity (Routledge, Forthcoming).

Elwood, S., V. Lawson, and S. Nowak. 2015. Middle-Class Poverty Politics: Making Place, Making People. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 105 (1):123–143.


Grants & Awards

Helin Travel Grant, UCLA Department of Geography (2019)Indonesian Studies Travel Grant, UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies (2018)Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Summer Fellowship in Indonesian (2018)National Science Foundation Graduate Reseach Fellowship (2015 – 2018)University of Washington, Dean’s Medalist in Social Sciences (2013)University of Washington Library Research Award (2013)Mary Gates Research Fellowship (2013)University of Washington, Academic Excellence (2013)

Courses & Presentations

Nowak, S. (2016) “Beyond Mobile Methods in Mobilities Methodologies.” American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, Boston MA, 2016.

Nowak, S. (2015) “The (Thin) Blue Line: Police and the Politics of Mobility.” American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, San Francisco CA, 2015.

Anixter, H., S. Nowak, K. Hankins, A. Walter (2013) “A Quiet Politics of Spatial Solidarity: ‘Intentional Neighboring’ in the Inner City”. Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, CA, April, 2013.


Eric Sheppard (Co-chair)

Helga Leitner (Co-chair)

Ananya Roy (Committee)

C.K. Lee (Committee)