‘Seeing’ the smart safe city: Cartographies of infrastructural violence in India’s urban age

Authors: Ayona Datta*, King's College London, Nabeela Ahmed, King's College London
Topics: Urban Geography, Gender, Women
Keywords: Smart city, gender, digital geography, infrastructure, Violence Against Women
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Roosevelt 4, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


An escalating #metoo movement in India indicates the multi-scalar nature of Violence Against Women (VAW) from the intimate to public to digital space. Largely driven by a loose group of urban middle-class women, young millennials and those who are able to ‘speak’ in/through social media, the #metoo movement is a phenomenon of the digital urban age that has largely left behind women in poorer neighbourhoods. Based on an ongoing British Academy research project, we argue that while the #metoo movement can be seen as the cartographies of sexual harassment with significant connections with the city, the smart safe city can be ‘seen’ in the intersections of 1) physical infrastructures of transport, water, sanitation 2) digital infrastructures of mobile phones, safety apps and network connectivity 3) and human infrastructures of solidarity, support and abuse in the city. We will ‘see’ this intersectionality of violence through a critical practice of infrastructure mapping across the scales of the city, neighbourhood and women themselves. We will use feminist theories of time, temporality and digital mapping to suggest that the gendered urban citizen is produced from the blindspots of vision across digital, physical and human infrastructures. We will conclude by exploring some of the ways that seeing the smart safe city through infrastructural violence can have deeper reach into the cartographies of fear and safety and thus have relevance for urban poor women. Seeing the smart safe city through digital cartography will make the #metoo movement relevant for intersectional feminist theory and action.

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