Workshop CfP: Smart Urban Futures and Social Justice

The ‘smart city’ discourse has become almost ubiquitous in contemporary urban policy. In the global South, initiatives such as the Indian 100 smart cities programme has foregrounded the oft-misplaced faith in technology to engender urban regeneration and greater city efficiency. In South Africa, the aim to be smart has become embedded in a developmental discourse, yet manifestations of exclusionary urban development on city fringes continue to flourish. This workshop is the culmination of an 18 month network led by University of Leeds, which used Indian and South African contexts as entry points into exploring the relationship between smart urban futures and social justice. In order to facilitate continued debate on this controversial topic, this workshop is aimed at exploring the various nuances of the smart city debate in order to understand its implications for social justice, opportunities for more inclusive cities and the prospects for technologically informed solutions to urban problems.

Plenary speakers include Gillian Rose, Simon Marvin, Martin Murray, Federico Caprotti, Ola Soderstrom, Kelvin Campbell and Andrés Luque-Ayala.

We invite participants to engage in an interactive and focused workshop to be held in Leeds. Workshop themes are as follows:

– Uncovering the smart city: debunking the myths and coming to grips with what constitutes a smart city, conceptually and practically.

– Smart ‘spin-offs’ / visuals: how does the notion of ‘smart’ contribute to urban knowledge, how we understand and make sense of the city? How does it contribute to spatial transformation in cities? Does it contribute to deeper exclusions?

– Beyond the critique: smart solutions for urban futures? This theme looks towards the present and future in critiquing the role of technology in innovation and solutions to urban challenges at local and regional scales.

Potential contributors are invited to submit abstracts to Ayona Datta ( and Nancy Odendaal ( by 1 April 2016, and will be notified of acceptance by 30 April. Early career scholars are particularly welcome.

The event is free for the first 30 attendees after which a nominal contribution towards catering will be required. We will give preference to those who also submit an abstract for the workshop to the organisers. Please RSVP for numbers via Eventbrite.

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