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The digital turn in postcolonial urbanism: Smart citizenship in the making of India's 100 smart cities

Datta, A; (2018) The digital turn in postcolonial urbanism: Smart citizenship in the making of India's 100 smart cities. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers , 43 (3) pp. 405-419. 10.1111/tran.12225. Green open access

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Abstract

The smart city as a “digital turn” in critical urban geography has gone largely unnoticed in postcolonial urbanism. This paper seeks to address this gap by examining the emergence of new forms of postcolonial citizenship at the intersection of digital and urban publics. In particular, I investigate the production of a “smart citizen” in India's 100 smart cities challenge – a state‐run inter‐urban competition that seeks to transform 100 existing cities through ICT‐driven urbanism. By examining the publicly available documents and online citizen consultations as well as observations of stakeholder workshops in four of the proposed smart cities, I illustrate how a global technocratic imaginary of “smart citizenship” exists alongside its vernacular translation of a “chatur citizen” – a politically engaged citizen rooted in multiple publics and spatialities. This takes place through three key processes – enumerations, performances and breaches. Enumerations are coercions by the state of an urban population that has so far been largely hidden from analogue technologies of governance and governmentality. Articulations are the performances of smart citizenship across digital and material domains that ironically extend historic social inequalities from the urban to the digital realm. Finally, breaches are the ruptures of the impenetrable technocratic walls around the global smart city, which provides a window into alternative and possible futures of postcolonial citizenship in India. Through these three processes, I argue that subaltern citizenship in the postcolony exists not in opposition, but across urban and digital citizenships. I conclude by offering the potential of a future postcolonial citizen who opens up entangled performances of compliance and connivance, authority and insecurity, visibility and indiscernibility across political, social, urban and digital publics.

Type: Article
Title: The digital turn in postcolonial urbanism: Smart citizenship in the making of India's 100 smart cities
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/tran.12225
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/tran.12225
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2018 The Author. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers). This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: digital citizenship, India, postcolonial urbanism, smart cities, subaltern citizen
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10082962
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