Being Citizens in the Digital: Identity and Belonging in/with the Digital

Type: Virtual Paper
Sponsor Groups: Digital Geographies Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM (PDT)
Room: Virtual 48
Organizers: Joyce Percel, Angela Ambrose
Chairs: Joyce Percel


Digital technologies have become inseparably intertwined with daily life, becoming key mediators of identity and belonging. As people’s lives become more entangled with these technologies, individuals unevenly experience new privileges and barriers, shifted identities, and reproduced or even intensified discrimination. Citizenship, a socially contingent and scalar concept, has been largely absent from critical data and algorithm scholarship, but is an important framework for understanding identity and belonging within and across various spaces. Power structures of in/formal citizenship constrain individuals and communities, influencing who is included in and excluded from physical, digital, and social spaces. Open-source, editable platforms enable digitally-connected users, or digital citizens, to datafy themselves and others, legitimizing digitized forms of knowledge and enacting power asymmetries between digitizer-digitized. Algorithmic technologies such as predictive policing software make marginalized, and often racialized, people and communities hypervisible through data generated from histories of discrimination, resulting in an automated stigmatization and undermining of basic human rights. Reconceptualizing citizenship within the digital offers a unique perspective to examine how identities and senses of belonging shift as ‘smart’ technologies, software driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning, and even grassroots and emancipatory digital platforms are further developed.

This session seeks to address the question: how does the co-production of material and digital space shift conceptions and actualizations of citizenship, identity, and forms of belonging? We aim to bring together papers that examine a) how identities shift in different spaces at different scales (local, global, digital), b) how identities co-produce one another across material and digital spaces and/or c) how digital technologies imprint in/visibility onto bodies. We particularly welcome papers that engage with citizenship, identity, and belonging in relation to settler colonialism and racial capitalism.

Themes for papers will include, but are not limited to:

Urban informality, digital citizenship, and identity
Uneven representations in digital technologies
Intersections of Black geographies, queer geographies, feminist geographies, Latinx geographies, Indigenous geographies and/or decolonial geographies with digital citizenship and identity
Resistance and refusal in digital representation
Surveillance and digital enclosures
Smart cities and smart citizenship
Algorithmic violence and oppression
Digital exclusion and in/visibility


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Browne, S. (2015). Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness. Duke University Press.

Cheney-Lippold, J. (2017). We are Data: Algorithms and the Making of our Digital Selves. NYU Press.

Chun, W.H.K. (2009) Race and/as Technology; or, How to Do Things to Race. Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies 24(1): 7–35

Couldry, N., & Mejias, U. A. (2019). The Costs of Connection: How Data Is Colonizing Human Life and Appropriating It for Capitalism. Stanford University Press.

Couldry, N., Stephansen, H., Fotopoulou, A., Macdonald, R., Clark, W., & Dickens, L. (2014). Digital citizenship? Narrative exchange and the changing terms of civic culture. Citizenship Studies, 18, 615–629.

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Eubanks, V. (2018). Automating inequality: How high-tech tools profile, police, and punish the poor. St. Martin's Press.

Hintz, A., Dencik, L., & Wahl-Jorgensen, K. (2019). Digital citizenship in a datafied society. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Jefferson, B. J. (2020). Digitize and punish: Racial criminalization in the digital age. University of Minnesota Press.

Noble, S. (2018). Algorithms of Oppression: How search engines reinforce racism. NYU Press.

Rose, G. (2017). “Posthuman Agency in the Digitally Mediated City: Exteriorization, Individuation, Reinvention.” Annals of the American Association of Geographers 107(4). 779–93.

Safransky, S. (2019). Geographies of Algorithmic Violence: Redlining the Smart City. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 44(2), 200-218.

Shelton, T., and T. Lodato. (2019). Actually Existing Smart Citizens: Expertise and (Non)Participation in the Making of the Smart City. City 23(1). 35–52.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Angela Ambrose*, , Digital Citizenship and In/formal Belonging : Advocacy and participatory mapping in villas miserias of Buenos Aires 15 4:40 PM
Presenter Maria Cervantes*, University of British ColumbiaLiu Institute for Global Issues - Vancouver, BC, Digital transnationalism: strategies against vulnerability in the immigration journey of skilled Mexicans in Vancouver 15 4:55 PM
Presenter Reecia Orzeck*, Illinois State University, Emotion and embodied knowledge through the lens of digital capitalism 15 5:10 PM
Presenter Andrea Craft*, University of Illinois At Chicago, Open Data for Police Accountability 15 5:25 PM

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