Provincializing Smart Urbanism in Taipei: Smart City as a Strategy for Urban Regime Transition

Authors: I-Chun Catherine Chang*, Macalester College, Sue-Ching Jou, National Taiwan University, Ming-Kuang Chung, National Taiwan University
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Asia
Keywords: Smart Urbanism, Taipei City, Provincializing, Urban Regime Transition
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: 8222, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The appeal of revolutionizing urban governance through information technologies has prompted cities across the globe to pursue smart city initiatives. The mainstream scholarship on these initiatives has mostly focused on technology and corporate-led urban development, which also often privileges the experience of cities in the global North. Nevertheless, this mainstream understanding of smart city may obscure emerging new power dynamics and locally contextualized processes associated with smart urban developments, especially in cities at the global periphery. Inspired by post-colonial theories, this paper argues for the need to “provincialize” smart urbanism by displacing technology from the center of analysis, bringing in peripheral perspectives of cities lying outside the core of the knowledge production of smart city, and focusing on power relationships. In our case study of Taipei City, this provincializing approach helps us discover how smart city can be employed as a political strategy to facilitate urban regime transition. We argue that the current non-affiliated Ko administration exploits the seemingly politically-neutral and technology-driven smart city agenda to set new developmental goals, form new development coalitions, and incorporate rising populist momentum into policy-making. By focusing on the politics of being smart, our findings reveal how smart city experiments reshape power dynamics and regime formation through reorganizing actors and interest groups, reconfiguring government institutions, reallocating resource distribution, and in the end, promoting governing legitimacy.

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