Accepted Paper:

The smart city as conscription device: negotiating the politics of emptiness in Santiago de Chile  


Ignacio Perez (University of Oxford)
Martin Tironi (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)

Paper short abstract:

In this presentation, we describe how the notion of the Smart City in Santiago de Chile is translated, operating as 'conscription device' (Latour & Woolgar, 1986). Then, we analyse how the concept becomes a mechanism for enrolment, managing to create a political agenda without discussing politics

Paper long abstract:

Today, the concept of the "Smart City" has been positioned with singular force in urban discourses a, becoming a label that cities around the world increasingly seek to obtain (Campbell, 2012). Chile is part of this trend, these discourses and projects have taken over the local urban agenda, structuring discussions of how cities should be and mobilizing experts and resources for the application of the doctrines of the smart city (Tironi & Valderrama, 2017).

Some of the questions addressed in this presentation are: How is this techno-intelligent notion of the city is translated to the context of Santiago de Chile? What sorts of interest are mobilized when the different actors speak about smart urbanism? What definitions of the city and citizens are enacted when this concept is operationalised in highly unequal contexts like Chile?

Through the analysis of the "Se Santiago" program, using an ethnographic approach, we describe how the notion of the Smart City is translated, operating as 'conscription device' (Latour & Woolgar, 1986). Specifically, we analyse how the vagueness of the concept of Smart City becomes a mechanism for enrolment or 'conscription device', generating a dialogue between actors with radically different interests and definitions of the city, managing to create a political and urban agenda without discussing politics. Therefore, we seek to show how the translation of the SC in Santiago far from operating under a well-defined program, functions as a strategy of purification to generate consensus, framing diverse stakeholders around the idea of the Smart City.

Panel C13
Assembling the smart city: exploring the contours of social difference