Smart Cities in the Global South: Contributing to Cosmopolitan Urban Studies


Smart cities are here but studies with a sociopolitical lens are just catching up. In the field of critical smart urbanism, the research frontier is to explore how smart is actually being implemented and investigate the impacts on everyday life. There is little research in the Global South, with only a few studies from India, South Africa, Chile, and the African continent in general. In response to the research gap, this project proposes ethnographic and qualitative methods to carry out a comparative study of two smart city projects in Mexico. The cases, Ciudad Creativa Digital and Pueblo Mágico Inteligente, exhibit promising opportunities for analysis to shed light on technology-driven models of urban development. The project’s aims are to unpack how smart is being understood at the local governmental level, investigate the visions of utopia being developed, explore the impacts on everyday life, and contribute to cosmopolitan approaches. The project’s objective is to make a three-fold contribution to the fields of critical smart urbanism and postcolonial urban studies. This state-of-the-art approach opens the door for future Global North-Global South comparative studies. As urban growth and the global expansion the smart city continue, understanding the lived experience and the specific challenges and opportunities that smart city residents face in the Global South is important for the overall sustainability of the planet. This is a contribution to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) #9, 10, and 11.

Financing body: The Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (FORMAS)