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Re-novation – regional imaginaries of innovation, identities and power 
Marlise Schneider (Technical University of Munich)
Nadine Osbild (TU Munich)
Joakim Juhl (TU Munich)
Sebastian Pfotenhauer (Technical University of Munich)
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Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

Our panel explores how innovation policy in “left-behind” and “hidden” regions can overwrite local knowledge and future imaginations. We also investigate negotiations of worthwhile futures in urban spaces trying to synergetically combine technological and alternative modes of innovation.

Long Abstract:

Innovation has infiltrated discussions surrounding economic and social improvement. Not only is it presented as a driver of competitiveness and long-term prosperity, but also as essential for a better future. It has become seen as a panacea to both new and persistent challenges – whether in health, demographic change, sustainability, food, poverty, inequality, education, or transportation – almost regardless of where or what the specific challenges are. With innovation being written into national policies worldwide, its promises are shaping future visions on the highest level of power. Innovation policy is frequently modeled after successful clusters, such as Silicon Valley or MIT, that bring together universities, government, and industry. Often, the aim is to rebrand places either ‘left behind’ by former industry (e.g., coal) or ‘lagging behind’ other hubs economically. Either way, these policies promise to resolve issues and boost regions with science and technology initiatives. However, these strategies have come into conflict with local and regional imaginations of the future, which may connect to industrial legacies, and thus, create identities that might disconnect overall local imaginations from innovation.

In this panel, we aim to bring together research on innovation policy and development strategies in “left-behind” and “hidden” regions and how the desire to develop the respective place economically can overwrite local knowledge and future imaginations. We are also interested in the active negotiation of worthwhile futures in urban spaces that are trying to synergetically combine technological and alternative modes of innovation. Finally, addressing what is underexplored in innovation and STS, we look for concrete examples of alternative imaginations of a future and regions that are paving their own way, regardless of, or in direct conflict with, political, top-down strategies enacted upon them. This could include unique local government constellations, low-tech futures, and policies for regions not ex/implicitly tied to innovation.

Accepted papers: