Contesting Digital Futures: Urban Politics, Alternative Economies, and the Movement for Technological Sovereignty in Barcelona

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Abstract

Scholars have offered important critiques of the socio-spatial processes of contemporary technological development, including the rise of “smart city” urban development models. While these critiques have been essential for understanding contemporary forms of techno-capitalism and their reach into new areas, this paper calls for a consideration of alternative modes of digital development in urban life beyond the logics of securitisation and capital accumulation. In particular, I examine the critical discourses and experimental practices of a grassroots movement focused on claiming “technological sovereignty” (TS) in Barcelona. The TS movement is a broad, de-centralised network of cooperatives, associations, and community initiatives experimenting with alternative practices of locally rooted, open-source digital development. These groups explore democratic and cooperative practices of work, property, production, and consumption in relation to digital technology, based around an ethics of care and a commitment to working through and within local communities. In examining the values, beliefs, and practices of the TS movement, I bring ongoing discussions around digitalisation and the “smart city” into critical conversation with the extensive literature on prefigurative urban politics and postcapitalist economies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)660-680
JournalAntipode
Volume52
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

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