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Accepted Paper:

Futuring mobility, futuring the city: socio-technical imaginaries of demotorizing Southern cities  
Govind Gopakumar (Concordia University)

Short abstract:

This paper utilizes imaginaries to examine the contested relation between transport infrastructures and urban futures in Bengaluru, India. Such an analysis is is necessary given the push in several southern cities to reign in motorization through infrastructure development.

Long abstract:

In the megacities of the global South, realizing aspirational transport futures have become synonymous with disrupting the growing automobile dependence there. A range of efforts have been trialed on the ground as part of the will to transition to a putative sustainable urban mobility. Zooming in on the city of Bengaluru, India, we conduct a qualitative inquiry into the fragmented visions of mobility that coalesce around three heterogenous infrastructure endeavours in the city – electrification of public transport, road redesign, and blocking through traffic. Presented as socio-technical imaginaries, we propose that the heterogenous endeavours rehearse multiple co-existing desired transport futures. This conceptualization is notable because it advances the burgeoning literature on socio-technical imaginaries in two novel directions. First, socio-technical imaginaries have been predominantly conceptualized at the national level, here we root the concept within the (Southern) urban context, and especially within the contestations and competitions accompanying the terrain. Second, building upon the literature on southern urbanism, we argue that socio-technical imaginaries of urban mobility do much more than realizing particular desirable transport futures, they constitute urban territories and through that the future cities. Thus, socio-technical imaginaries of transport infrastructures in the global south become a means for envisioning the yet-to-be realized city.

Traditional Open Panel P106
The promises and fractures of infrastructures: infrastructural imaginaries and the realities of our built world
  Session 1 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -