Critical New Media and the Urban: Productive Tensions, or Conflicted Antagonisms?

Type: Panel
Sponsor Groups: Digital Geographies Specialty Group, Socialist and Critical Geography Specialty Group, Urban Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Johnson, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Organizers: Ryan Burns, Eliot Tretter
Chairs: Ryan Burns


Recent critical scholarship in media studies has drawn our attention on the ways that digital economies are remaking capitalist socialist relations. Algorithms sort commercial information, knowledges are enclosed within for-profit mapping and crowdsourcing platforms, and social media recruit free labor in service of attentional economies. This research tends to focus on how new modes of corporate behavior make, unmake, and remake relations between knowledge, communications media, and profit.
Some efforts to identify the urban within critical new media studies notwithstanding, the figure of city remains obscure. The imperative facing both media scholars and urbanists is to identify the ways new systems and means of communication and value circulation relate to geographies of urbanization, the built environment, and the circuits of capital’s urban implications. On the one hand, it would seem that this all comes together in the Smart City, but such discussions are quite nascent where they happen at all.

A further complexity to urbanism and new media studies relates to new processes by which knowledges, names, the commons, communications channels, and creativity itself are enclosed upon for the purposes of capital accumulation. While this can be explained in some ways with the classic conception of “rent” – a key component of urban process, emerging digital technologies present important new processes through which urbanists must now think. In short, new digital technologies are increasingly a condition of contemporary urbanism.
In this session, we hope to provide a forum for thinking about emerging connections between critical new media studies and urban theory. For this session we welcome empirically-grounded but theoretically-rich papers engaging with some combination of media theory and urban theory, to build conceptual frameworks around new digital economies, processes of rent and enclosure, and smart cities.


Type Details Minutes
Panelist James Thatcher University of Washington Tacoma 20
Panelist Maral Sotoudehnia University of Victoria 20
Panelist Sophia Maalsen The University of Sydney 20
Panelist Ramon Ribera-Fumaz 20

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