Realizing the value of interdisciplinary research: How can critical theory be ‘applied’ to smart cities? I - Paper Session

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Digital Geographies Specialty Group, Urban Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Washington 1, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Organizers: Jane YeonJae Lee, Orlando Woods
Chairs: Jane YeonJae Lee

Call for Submissions


Convenors: Jane Yeonjae Lee (Singapore Management University), Orlando Woods (Singapore Management University)
Discussant: Matthew Zook (University of Kentucky)

With the rapid sociotechnical changes that are taking place around the world, smart cities have become a significant topic of discussion and contention amongst geographers. Critical theorizations of smart urbanism have alerted urban scholars to research the uneven power relations, inequalities, surveillance, politics of knowledge, environmental and social justice in relation to smart cities – just to name a few. Yet, Rob Kitchin (2015) draws attention to the fact that “critical scholars are reluctant to work formally with more technically oriented academics or business and government stakeholders” and that it is uncommon to see critical social science research come up with technical solutions for smart cities. Indeed, urban scholars and social scientists are generally less interested in the technology itself as the current critical debates have been challenging, politicizing, and problematizing the ways in which public smart discourses are embedded within technological determinism and neoliberal logics. There is hence a lack of collaborative dialogue between critical urban scholars and other technically-oriented fields to be influential in the decision-making processes of smart policy and also in the building of smart technologies and physical infrastructure.In this session, we want to create an engaging dialogue between critical urban theorists and applied practitioners, the aim being to identify ways to maximise the value of interdisciplinary research on smart cities.

We invite papers from critical urban scholars who are interested in the applied aspects of smart cities and are (or will be) working closely with academics from technically-oriented disciplines such as information scientists, architects, engineers, and so on. We are interested in the ways in which different disciplines who speak different languages can inform one another in creating a socially and culturally informed smart solutions. We are especially interested in new research designs and methodologies on smart urbanism that are framed from a truly interdisciplinary angle.

We would like the presenters to engage with one or more of the following questions (but are not limited to):
• How can critical urban theorists work closely with technically-oriented scholars and practitioners in order to come up with smart city solutions that are culturally, socially and politically informed?
• What are some of the new research designs and/or theoretical and empirical results coming out of this collaboration?
• What are some of the methodological/everyday challenges of working with academics of other fields and/or other non-academic practitioners? What are some of the benefits of such engagement?

If you are interested, please submit an abstract of 250 words to Jane ( by November 5th 2018. The participants would be notified with a decision and would then be asked to provide their PIN in order to be officially included in the session.

Kitchin, R. (2015). Making sense of smart cities: Addressing present shortcomings. Cambridge Journal Of Regions, Economy And Society, 8(1), 131-136.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Byron Miller*, University of Calgary, Ryan Burns, University of Calgary, Positionality, Interests, and Rationalities of the Smart City: Intersecting Roles of Smart City Actors 20 8:00 AM
Presenter Jane YeonJae Lee*, Singapore Management University, Orlando Woods, Singapore Management University, Lily Kong, Singapore Management University , Toward a sedimented methodology of studying inclusive smart cities 20 8:20 AM
Presenter Sarah Barns*, University of Western Sydney, Data-driven urbanism as a space for deliberative urban democracy? 20 8:40 AM
Presenter Luis F Alvarez Leon, Dartmouth College, Jovanna Rosen*, University of Southern California, Technology as Ideology in Urban Governance 20 9:00 AM
Discussant Matthew Zook University of Kentucky 20 9:20 AM

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