New digitally-mediated urban politics via Decide Madrid and vTaiwan: towards cosmopolitics, or depoliticization? (250 words)

Authors: Yu-Shan Tseng*, University of Durham
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: Digital Democracy; Urban Politics; Occupy Movement; ANT
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Executive Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Urban spaces are considered as key loci for political demonstration or revolution (Lefebvre 1996; Harvey 2011) and currently are becoming increasingly connected and reproduced through digital technologies (Crang &Graham 2007; Shepard 2011). However, there is a paucity of literature emphasising the relationship between digital technologies, urban spaces and politics. Therefore, this proposal examines two digital platforms (Decide Madrid and vTaiwan) as a way of understanding these new relationships in specific urban contexts. I argue that Decide Madrid and vTaiwan are not merely digital technologies, but mechanisms which generate new forms of urban politics.

These two platforms could not have appeared without the emergence of the Occupy movements (15M in Madrid/Sunflower Movement in Taipei). These movements have been described as the ‘return of the political’ (Swyngedouw 2014). It has been said that they opened up new imaginations of the politics of ‘digital urban’, that is, new possibilities of doing urban politics via digital technologies.

In addition, drawing from the concept of urban cosmopolitics (Blok &Farías 2016) and depoliticisation (Ranciere 1997; Mouffe 2005; Swyngedouw 2014), I hope to indicate what specific types of politics Decide Madrid and vTaiwan produce. An initial analysis suggests Decide Madrid and vTaiwan attempt to actualize conceptions of urban cosmopolitics “in which the unknown,…, may suddenly become visible, problematic, generative of new relationships...” (Blok &Farías 2016, p.14); having said that, vTaiwan appears to articulate more of a depolitical condition (Swyngedouw 2014), in that the digital platform is sometimes used for legitimating political decision taken previously by politicians.

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