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This panel interrogates the role of smart cities in defining new urban imaginaries at a global level, focusing on the concrete, uneven narratives and practices that social actors use to transgress, break or reinterpret smart city logics in their daily life.
In the last decade, local, national and transnational actors (urban planners, ITC communities, politicians) have increasingly implemented "smart city" policies at global level. These new smart city rhetoric and politics mould seductive imaginaries based on keywords like innovation, sustainability, creativity, connectivity, promising to improve quality of life for the urban population. Critical analysis on smart cities highlights how this new paradigm is yet another expression of a city model imposed from above. The smart city manifests itself as the last incarnation of neoliberalism in urban spatial politics: it is market-oriented and enacts a depoliticization of social life. Moreover, this new "smart urbanism" exacerbates socio-economic inequalities rather than reducing them, since it is mainly targeted to educated people. However, critical literature declines the smart city in the singular form, and risks providing universal analyses distant from the concrete ways smart city policies interact with existing urban realities.
This panel is interested in ethnographic contributions that problematise local concretizations of the smart city and, contrastively, the implications of breaking their rules. How and why are smart cities conveyed in urban contexts and how, why and by whom are they re-appropriated and contested? Which is the meaning of transgressing smart city rules? Are these transgressions part of explicit struggles? Do they reflect class-conflicts, youth sub-cultures, local demands? Or rather are they individually enacted? Eluding a strict dichotomy between subversion and resistance, the panel intends to create a deeper understanding of what is at stake in contesting and transgressing new smart imaginaries and politics.