What are Smart Cities? This panel seeks contributions that explore what is involved in processes of smartification, and examine what kind of infrastructural work is required to enact and harmonize potentially diverging technopolitical goals in the designs and everyday life of Smart Cities.
A growing number of cities define themselves as "Smart Cities" based on the widening and deepening of the technological platforms they implement. From focusing on infrastructure and public services to culture and sociality, Smart City projects allow for confluences, collaborations and intersections of various stakeholders, such as developers and users, decision-makers and residents, experts and non-experts, programmers and artists, entrepreneurs and researchers. Some stakeholders and observers argue that smart city projects contribute to governance efficiency, to social connectedness, and to improvements of climate, health and security. At the same time, critics show skepticism regarding the goals assigned to urban digital tools (such as sensors, CCTV cameras, and other digital tools), the practices of their operation, and their derived political and ethical considerations (such as algorithm governance and ubiquitous surveillance). Since cities "smartification" is a vague social process with different, sometimes contradicting meanings, this panel seeks papers drawing from ethnographic explorations of Smart Cities' confluences, collaborations and intersections between the various stakeholders as well as between humans and the city's infrastructure. Such papers could focus on the various interests, strategies and tactics involved in the invention, implementation and use of Smart City projects; on processes of shaping urban sociality and denizens' subjectivity through the design of digital platforms and algorithms; on the formations of digital labor in the smart city's economy of datafication; on forms of exercising power on and resistance of cyborg citizens; and on the kinds of creative collaborations that evolve in and around smart city projects.