Digital technologies have changed the world, transforming how, where, and when we communicate, love, learn, re/create, produce, distribute, and consume. Digital infrastructures connect people and places across vast distances, yet they also extend the working day into personal time and space, increasing the power of financial institutions, and enhance state and corporate surveillance capacities.
Digital Lives in the Global City examines the entanglements of urban life, investigating how urban land, governance, and the economy are being contested and remade by advancing communication technologies. How do digital infrastructures influence complex human intimacies and perspectives? What does this mean for citizenship and political life in the city?
Emerging from a multi-year partnership between scholars, documentary filmmakers, and communities, Digital Lives in the Global City intersperses critical scholarship with a series of provocative short works from activists, artists, and citizens. Moving beyond the so-called smart cities of the global north, leading thinkers engage with a wide range of issues wrought by digital infrastructure: struggles over unsafe and illegal buildings in Mumbai, the conditions of migrant work in Singapore, the question of digital debt in Toronto, and targeted policing in New York. This nuanced exploration reveals the profound connections between digital technologies and the social life of global cities.
Tackling important contemporary issues, this accessible book will speak to a wide public audience with interest in urban culture as well as to scholars of geography, media studies, architecture, cultural studies, science and technology studies, urban studies, and women and gender studies.
Digital Lives in the Global City: Contesting Infrastructures makes an exciting contribution to a wide range of linked issues. It does so on its own terms, with its own concepts and aspirations.
A work of art, a digital map, and an academic text, Digital Lives in the Global City powerfully articulates the uneven and globally entangled politics of urban infrastructure and planning.
This is an important book. It maps simultaneous and imbricated infrastructures: the material infrastructure of the city, and the digital infrastructure that overlays the city and increasingly directs life within in. The experimental organization of the book and unorthodox style of many of the contributions are a welcome intervention.
Deborah Cowen is a professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto. She is the author of The Deadly Life of Logistics: Mapping Violence in Global Trade and Military Workfare: The Soldier and Social Citizenship in Canada, and coeditor of War, Citizenship, Territory and the Errantries book series at Duke Univeresity Press. Alexis Mitchell is an artist and SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Disability Studies at New York University. She has had recent exhibitions at Mercer Union (Toronto), the Berlinale (Berlin), and the BFI London Film Festival, and was an artist-in-residence at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, in 2015–17 and at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire in 2018. She often works collaboratively with artist Sharlene Bamboat under the name Bambitchell. Emily Paradis is an instructor with the Urban Studies Program of Innis College at the University of Toronto, a Maytree fellow, a collaborator with the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, a member of the Right to Housing Coalition, and an independent research consultant. Her scholarship and practice aim to support marginalized communities in claiming spaces and rights in the city. She has authored more than thirty publications on housing policy, homelessness, human rights, and lived expert leadership. Brett Story is an assistant professor in the School of Image Arts at Ryerson University, has a PhD in geography from the University of Toronto, and has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Sundance Documentary Institute. She is the author of Prison Land: Mapping Carceral Power across Neoliberal America and the director of the award winning documentaries, The Prison in Twelve Landscapes, and The Hottest August.
Contributors: Grace Baey, Simone Browne, Charmaine Chua, Katarina Cizek, Judy Duncan, Neha El-Hadi, Heather Frise, Stephen Graham, Ju Hui Judy Han, Hussain Indorewala, Symon James-Wilson, Anja Kanngieser, Sameera Khan, James Kilgore, Krystle Maki, Shaka McGlotten, Lize Mogel, Paramita Nath, Natalie Oswin, Shilpa Phadke, R. Josh Scannell, Kashaf Siddique, Nicole Starosielski, Indu Vashist, Visualizing Impact, Alan Walks, Shweta Wagh
Foreword: The Towers in the World, the World in the Towers / Katerina Cizek
Foreword: When Localities Go Global / Saskia Sassen
Introduction / Deborah Cowen, Alexis Mitchell, Emily Paradis, Brett Story
Digital Debt in a Precarious City / Emily Paradis, Heather Frise
Toronto’s Unsecure(d) Urban Debtscape / Alan Walks
Automating Social Inequality / Krystle Maki
ACORN’s Campaign for Affordable Access / Judy Duncan, ACORN
Transmutations / Nehal El-Hadi
Security and Surveillance
Digital Borders and Urban Worlds/ Stephen Graham
Audre Lorde’s File and June Jordan’s Skyrise / Simone Browne
Policing the Future(s) / R. Josh Scannell
Policing Borders through Sound / Anja Kanngieser
Big Data Meet Location Monitoring / James Kilgore
Digital Apartheid / Visualizing Impact
Mumbai Rising, Buildings Falling / Emily Paradis, Brett Story, Deborah Cowen
On "Market-Friendly" Planning in Mumbai / Hussain Indorewala, Shweta Wagh
Kashaf Siddique on Being Precariously Home in the Suburbs / Deborah Cowen, Kashaf Siddique
Dispatch from Mumbai / Deborah Cowen, Paramita Nath
#WhyLoiter / Shilpa Phadke, Sameera Khan
Shifting and Scripting Urban Lives
High-Altitude Protests and Necropolitical Digits / Ju Hui Judy Han
Terabytes of Love / Indu Vashist
The Most Hated Woman in Israel / Shaka McGlotten
DIY WI-FI / Heather Frise
Network Dislocations / Nicole Starosielski
The Labour of Global City Building / Alexis Mitchell, Deborah Cowen
Skyline of Dreams / Grace Baey
Sunny Island Set in the Sea / Charmaine Chua
Singapore as “Best Home” / Natalie Oswin
Not Another Cinderella Story / Symon James-Wilson
Urban Governance, Law, and Condoization in New York City and Toronto
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