Digital (In)justice in the Smart City

Adriana de La Peña Espinosa New Publication smart cities

IUR members, Carina Listerborn and Lorena Melgaço contributed to the newly released book titled Digital (In)justice in the Smart City, edited by Debra Mackinnon, Ryan Burns, and Victoria Fast.

Carina Listeborn’s contribution titled Who is Telling the Smart City Story? Feminist Diffractions of Smart Cities, “examines what smart city strategies can tell us about contemporary urban visions, conditions, and gendered social relations. Professor Listerborn extends feminist urban critique to analyse power relations that are being reproduced through techno-capitalist urban developments in Canada and Sweden.”

Lorena Melgaço, together with Lígia Milagres, contributed with a piece titled On the contradictions of the (Climate) Smart City in the Context of Socio-environmental Crisis, where they “mobilize a decolonial lens to examine the logics of technological determinism and developmentalism that undergird the “climate-smart” city. The authors explicate the connection between global climate protection targets, the adoption of smart sustainable agendas by national and local governments, and the reproduction of unequal relations between the global North and South”


In the contemporary moment, smart cities have become the dominant paradigm for urban planning and administration, weaving the urban fabric with digital technologies. Recently, however, the promises of smart cities have been gradually supplanted by recognition of their inherent inequalities, and scholars are increasingly working to envision alternative smart cities.

Informed by these pressing challenges, Digital (In)justice in the Smart City foregrounds discussions of how we should think of and work toward urban digital justice in the smart city. It provides a deep exploration of the sources of injustice that percolate throughout a range of sociotechnical assemblages, and it questions whether working toward more just, sustainable, livable, and egalitarian cities requires that we look beyond the limitations of “smartness” altogether. The book grapples with how geographies impact smart city visions and roll-outs, on one hand, and how (unjust) geographies are produced in smart pursuits, on the other. Ultimately, Digital (In)justice in the Smart City envisions alternative cities – smart or merely digital – and outlines the sorts of roles that the commons, utopia, and the law might take on in our conceptions and realizations of better cities.