Smart Cities and Infrastructural JusticeMimi Sheller
Cities are formed by mobilities as well as moorings. Located at the confluence of rivers, roadways, ports, rail termini, highways, and airports, cities have long been understood as a space of flows of people, goods, information, and ideas. They are places of intense infrastructural density founded upon the energy and resource-dependent movements of people, data, and objects: “Much of the city’s existence is concerned with energy flows taking place on different levels: from water and sewage through to electricity and information, from people and animals, to machines and vegetables.” The material turn in mobilities research highlights these geoecological underpinnings and spatial questions surrounding infrastructures, including the global political economies of oil, carbon, and the mining of metals.
Cities rely upon an exceptional scale of connections, networks, and flows, with “infrastructure” being the “basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g. buildings, roads, power supplies) needed for the operation of a society or enterprise.” Contemporary urban systems are places not just of human surface transportation but also vast movements of energy through pipelines and cables, long-distance travel of freight by air and rail, and communication networks that reach into aerial and orbital space. While transport studies have largely been interested in horizontal movements over the face of the earth, we need to include vertical mobilities from the deep sea and underground mines to the aerial spaces of aviation and low earth-orbiting satellites. Mobility justice on the ground must take into account these extended “operational landscapes” and “vertical dimensions of human world-making.”
Full content is available only for registered users. Please login or