Lecture des AK Stadtzukünfte

Mittwoch (20. September 2023), 13:30–14:15
HZ 5
Ludger Basten (TU Dortmund)
Ulrike Gerhard (Universität Heidelberg)
Uta Hohn (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)

Der AK Stadtzukünfte hat das Ziel, (Zukunfts‑) Fragen und Lösungsansätze der Stadtentwicklung und -forschung transdisziplinär und theoretisch offen zu diskutieren und weiterzuentwickeln. Die zweimal jährlich stattfindenden Veranstaltungen wenden sich gleichermaßen an (auch Nachwuchs‑) Wissenschaftler*innen wie an Expert*innen aus der Praxis.

Toward a Dracula urbanism: Smart City Mania

This talk examines the rise of the latest city building initiative that now sweeps across the globe, smart city making. Focusing on and comparing Flint, USA, and Jakarta, Indonesia, two struggling-to-redevelop cities that recently adopted smart city making, I chronicle that their governances work through and make a kind of urbanism that can fruitfully be termed Dracula urbanism. Dracula urbanism, inflected through these local governances, is seen to have four central features that also currently mark other cities across the globe. First, these governances secure essential political and economic resources through ever-thickening parasitic relations, particularly with upper-level sources of power and authority. Second, these governances perform unrelenting drives to kill and destroy (not rehabilitate or therapeutize) supposedly deep civic ‘cancers’, such as the poor’s presumed anti-civic, morally and culturally deficient dispositions and ways. Third, these governances strategically deploy the materiality and discursive terrors of decline to advance their projects. Fourth, these governances are decisively integrated into ‘planetary urbanizations’ through circuits of smart-growth capital investment and techno-scientific claims to expertise. All of these, I chronicle, are characteristics that mirror Stoker’s late nineteenth century rendition of his fictitious Dracula. I conclude that the cultural politics of in-your-face revanchism that Neil Smith helped us to see, still present in cities such as Flint and Jakarta, is today accompanied by an equally pun­ishing, complicated and adroitly adapting state politics.

David Wilson is Professor for Urban Geography as well as Criticism and Interpretive Theory at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign with research projects pivoting around the political economy of the U.S. and global north city. He was made a lifetime AAG Fellow for his contributions to critical urban studies and received a CAPAS Fellowship from Heidelberg University for the fall of 2023.