Epistemic dialogues South-North: decolonising the smart city agenda

2019-2021

This project will address an epistemological gap in urban studies, namely the unseemly over-reliance on EuroAmerican canon of knowledge discussing the ‘smart city’ agenda that masks specific socio-spatial and institutional arrangements shaping the use of digital technology in the Global South. Furthermore, the top-down approach to the subject also limits the understanding of how digitalisation from below iterates with local spatial practices in the context of socio-technological marginalisation. Epistemic dialogues proposes we depart from a decolonial lens, which critically redresses the persistence of colonial power relations, to grapple with the proliferation of ‘smart cities’ and to promote a global South-North dialogue that allows us to rethink ‘the world from indigenous places and from the marginalised academia in the global South’ (Radcliffe, 2017, p. 329). By investigating smart city initiatives in Brazil and conducting a pilot project in Sweden, this project will contribute to both urban studies and the decolonial field by developing theoretical and methodological frameworks that are not only suitable for a Southern context, but also offer pointers for an afresh perspective to discuss the social impact of digitalisation for the marginalised in the global North.