[Air-L] CFP AAG 2018: My City Is Smarter than Yours: Deconstructing the Buzzwords

ryan burns ryan.burns1 at ucalgary.ca
Wed Sep 13 08:51:37 PDT 2017

Call for papers for the 2018 annual meeting of the American Association of
Geographers, April 10-14 in New Orleans.

My City Is Smarter than Yours: Deconstructing the Buzzwords

Open data are at the forefront of smart cities initiatives. In research on
both open data and smart cities, however, scholars tend to take complex
terms—such as transparent, open, accountable, democratic, empowerment,
value, inclusive, and access—as self-explanatory and as inherently worthy
objectives. This uncritical treatment of the terms leaves the multiple and
contradictory meanings embedded within the terms unexplored and
under-examined. This omission constitutes a politics that complicate simple
notions around the normative value of the goals open data and smart city
advocates laud. It raises fundamental questions, such as smart how? Open
how? On whose terms? By what conceptualization? And, perhaps most
importantly, raises critical considerations around the meanings attached at
particular moments to attain very particular goals, such as private-sector
profit, strengthened systems of governmentality, or attentional economy
expansion. While there’s a growing number of resources from which we can
draw, this remains an oversight within the overall research agenda.

Making these considerations has at least three main goals. It can lend
important theoretical insights into how smart cities function, particularly
in relation to its attendant social and political process. As well, it can
inform practitioners’ work as they consider the impacts and implications of
open data platforms within smart cities initiatives, and the longstanding
goals to which they aspire. It also contributes knowledge to activists’
work around “our digital rights to the city” (Shaw and Graham 2017) and the
factors that enable or disable processes of empowerment. This is becoming
especially important as smart cities increasingly align with open data and
open government initiatives.

To that end, we’re inviting paper submissions related to the following


   Discourse analysis of smart city or open data keywords

   Omissions and strategic absences of “transparency” and “accountability”

   Gaps and inequalities in smart cities

   What becomes open, and why?

   What do prioritized open datasets tell us about social and political

   How does smart cities or open data lead to open government?

Please send your submissions by Friday, 10/13, to Victoria Fast (
victoria.fast at ucalgary.ca) and Ryan Burns (ryan.burns1 at ucalgary.ca).
Decisions will be made by Monday, 10/22. The abstract due date is 10/25,
and the conference will be held April 10-14 in New Orleans, LA.

Ryan Burns, PhD
Dept of Geography, University of Calgary

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