07 October 2013

Thinking the ‘smart city’: power, politics and networked urbanism

Because every discussion of "The Smart City" has to have a enthusiastic but generic image to convey city-ness, this image shows some buildings in central Philadelphia with dappled sunlight reflecting from one mirrored surface onto another. Photo by Alan Wiig, March 2013.

My Internet and urbanism, geography colleague at Clark University Taylor Shelton (@kytjs) and I are organizing a session at the 2014 Association of American Geographers annual meeting, in April in Tampa, Florida. We are looking for a few more contributors, so please reach out if the topic correlates with your research interests (contact emails below).

Thinking the ‘smart city’: power, politics and networked urbanism

Organized by Alan Wiig (Temple University) and Taylor Shelton (Clark University)

The fact that cities are increasingly being augmented by digital hardware and software, producing massive amounts of data about urban processes, has been well documented in recent years. Discourses around so-called ‘smart cities’ and tend to position them as either a panacea, an entirely new conceptual and material breakthrough, or as a kind of dystopian imposition of technological rationality onto cities, leaving the precise nature of this social and spatial reorganization unclear. This session will engage these issues through empirically-focused, but conceptually-rich, research on how digital information and communication technologies do not simply connect cities to distanciated networks, but also drive new forms of urban development and new methods of civic exchange and political contention between municipalities and their residents.

This session seeks papers that document and analyze how these new socio-technical systems are reconfiguring the relationships of urban governance, and how these systems remain embedded in longstanding social structures at both local and global scales. We are also interested in how geographers might offer a unique perspective on the processes and outcomes of smart urbanism, especially given the dominance of computer scientists and management consultants in the making of these projects. Possible topics might include, but are not limited to:

-- Policy mobilities and the ‘smart city’ model
-- Politics of urban data
-- Smart cities and technocratic planning
-- Smart cities as new urban entrepreneurial assemblages
-- Virtual spaces in the networked city
-- Role of transnational corporations in promoting smart city developments
-- Smart cities and urban environmental sustainability
-- Smart cities in the Global South
-- Cybernetics and the intellectual history of smart urbanism

Please submit abstracts of no more than 250 words to Alan Wiig (alanwiig [at] temple.edu) and Taylor Shelton (jshelton [at] clarku.edu) by October 21 to ensure sufficient time for review.

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