Call for Papers – Techno-Politics of the Sustainable-Smart City

Techno-Politics of the Sustainable-Smart City
Frontiers in Sustainable Cities: Governance and Cities
Edited by Andrew Karvonen, Matthew Cook and Mark Lemon

Contemporary sustainable urban development discourses and practices are increasingly being influenced by and conflated with a wide range of smart and digitalization agendas. The integration of ICT into urban systems promises enticing new ways of knowing and acting upon cities to enhance their economic, environmental, and social performance. The emergent smart urban operating systems are often presented as neutral analytical devices and an inevitable consequence of technological development. However, the move to digitalize cities is having profound and long-lasting impacts on the knowledge politics of sustainable urban development.

This Research Topic focuses on the techno-politics of the sustainable-smart city and how urban knowledge is being assembled and institutionalized through processes of digitalization. We invite theoretical and empirical contributions from scholars in planning, geography, political science, anthropology, sociology, science & technology studies, and aligned disciplines to contribute new insights on how practices of monitoring, sensoring, analyzing, modelling, simulating, and automating are influencing the political rationalities of sustainable urban development. 

We welcome contributions on issues related but not limited to:
• The ‘new urban science’ and emergent approaches to knowing cities
• Sensored landscapes, surveillance and social control
• City information modelling, digital twins and the politics of abstraction 
• Urban operating systems as new centers of calculation
• The disruptive potential of platforms to reorganize collective services
• Algorithms, machine learning, artificial intelligence and calculative rationalities
• Digital exclusion and the right to the city

For further information, see

Governing through Experiments: Local Authorities, Innovation and the Public Good

I participated in a doctoral seminar today by Erica Eneqvist where she summarised her on-going research on ‘Governing through Experiments: Local Authorities, Innovation and the Public Good’. Erica is developing novel empirical and theoretical insights on how the City of Stockholm is involved in innovation activities. Thanks to Sara Brorström from Gothenburg University for serving as an opponent and critical friend in the seminar. Looking forward to further development of this research!

Workshop on Regional Infrastructures

I contributed to the Regional Studies Association Research Network on Infrastructural Regionalism (NOIR) Workshops on Water Infrastructure and Regional Governance in Pittburgh with a keynote on ‘Thinking Regionally, Acting Strategically: New Approaches to Governing Regional Water Infrastructures.’ Thanks to Michael Glass, JP Addie and Jen Nelles for organising the workshops. The full line-up of presentations is here.

Master’s defenses with Nicholas Smart and Jamie Zouras

I was pleased to participate in Master’s defenses (via Zoom) by Nicholas Smart and Jamie Zouras today. Nicholas presented his project on Street Trees Across Culture and Climate: A Comparative Analysis of Density and Distribution while Jamie presented her study of Collaborative Decision-making in Green and Blue Infrastructure Projects: The Case of Copenhagen’s Hans Tavsens Park and Korsgade. Both studies focused on the sociocultural aspects of urban ecology. And thanks to Karin Bradley and Tigran Haas for their feedback.

Doctoral defense of Daniele Valisena

I was honoured to participate in Daniele Valisena’s doctoral defense yesterday as a member of the grading committee. Daniele’s thesis, Coal Lives: Italians and the Metabolism of Coal in Wallonia, Belgium 1945-1980, is an ambitious and far-reaching study of how migration, landscape, and capitalism all combined into a multi-faceted socio-eco-technical assemblage in Belgium immediately following World War II. Don Mitchell (Uppsala University) provided many insightful and challenging questions as the opponent while Patrizia Dogliano (University of Bologna), May-Brith Ohman Nielsen (University of Agder) and I participated as members of the grading committee. The defense was conducted entirely on Zoom with about 50 attendees from around the world and the grading committee was unanimous in its decision to pass Daniele’s thesis. Congratulations to Dr Valisena and his supervisors, Marco Armiero and Sverker Sörlin, for a job well done!

Formas funding for pilot projects on knowledge generation and green & blue infrastructure networks

I am pleased to announce two successful grant applications from the Formas funding programme on Planning for Transformation (Stage 1). The funding provides seed money to develop more extensive research grants over the next five months. I will be working with Jonathan Metzger to develop a proposal on ‘Transformational Learning in Sustainable Spatial Planning: From Exemplary Districts to Systemic Change’ and also with Lina Suleiman, Blal Adem Esmail, Elisabet Roca, and Rocco Scolozzi to develop a proposal on ‘Networking for Planning Re-arrangement and Governing Sustainable Blue-Green Infrastructure.’ Looking forward to it!