Footprint 33: Situating More-Than-Human Ecologies of Extended Urbanisation
For several years, discussions around the impact of technological innovation on the urban condition were dominated by the multifaceted engagements with the ‘smart city’ concept, reflected in the work of authors such as Michael Batty (2012), and Antoine Picon (2015). Subsequent critical perspectives on the technological condition of the urban raised questions concerning the interweaving of robotics and automation with existing urban networks, or the impact of the datafication of life in socio-spatial practices and services, as highlighted in the writings of Barns (2019), Sadowski (2020) and Graham (2020). While these contributions offer valuable insights, they remain city-centric in their focus and framework of investigation.
Recent debates in urban studies have highlighted the need to understand processes of urbanisation beyond the city, and situate them in the wider landscapes in which they occur. The notion of an extended urbanisation has been central to research agendas such as Brenner and Schmid’s ‘planetary urbanisation’, or Keil’s global ‘suburbanisms’, as a way to grasp the multitude of landscapes of primary production, circulation and waste disposal that support urban life. These operational landscapes of planetary urbanisation have also been undergoing intensive processes of transformation through the application of automation and digital platforms. For example, Arboleda’s Planetary Mine (2020) shows how processes of automation and machinic upscaling have dominated landscapes shaped by the mining industry, while authors like Ravis and Notkin (2020) focus on how precision agriculture practices are combining automated machinery with an ever-expanding infrastructure of big data, amplified by remote sensing technologies.
Building along lines of inquiry put forward in previous issues of Footprint on logistics and work environments (numbers 23 and 25), this explores the spatial implications of technological transformations found across those operational landscapes of primary production that constitute the metabolic basis of urbanisation. To the extent that these landscapes are increasingly automated and digitised, production and circulation practices are becoming more capital intensive and even less labour-intensive. While amplifying the precarity of human labour, this process relies on appropriating the work of more-than-human assemblages of machines, plants, animals and microorganisms. Central to the focus of this issue is understanding the way these processes are grounded in specific architectural and landscape configurations. In this way, we also aim to complement the debates of Footprint 32 on dwelling in the digital age, offering an investigation of the impact of technological transformation beyond the concentrated landscapes of human inhabitation.
Our intention is to help uncover the spatialisation of complex assemblages through which human and more-than-human agents are becoming operationalised in the making of the world ecologies of Moore’s ‘Capitalocene’. It aspires to reveal the social, technical and ecological tensions behind their composition, and thus revisit, from the perspective of non-city landscapes, persistent questions of ‘cyborg urbanisation’, as posed by Gandy. We are particularly interested in exploring situated interpretations, building upon the ethnographic and anthropological approaches such as those introduced by Sue Ruddick (2015) and Anna Tsing (2016) to interpret the Anthropocene. Seeking to reveal how planetary-scale technological systems and flows are entangled with place-specific histories and landscapes of more-than-human ecologies, and to debunk neocybernetic fantasies of closed systems and total control, we ultimately intent to shed light on the multiscalar dimensions of urbanisation processes.
We welcome submissions around three sub-themes focusing on: (1) multiscalar processes of operationalisation, producing landscapes of extended urbanisation, with a focus on primary production and circulation; (2) situated entanglements of technology, questioning assemblages of human and more-than-human work with particular landscapes and architectures; (3) design investigations of automated landscapes of extended urbanisation, deciphering their physical and material configurations.
Proposals for full, peer-reviewed articles (6000–8000 words) will be evaluated by the editors in the form of abstracts (max. 1000 words) based on originality, methodological and conceptual clarity, pertinence, and contribution to the growth and development of knowledge on the subject. Review articles (2000–4000 words) and visual essays (2000 words plus up to five images) will be selected by the editors based on an abstract (maximum 500 words) and will be assessed on the same criteria. All authors should include a short bio (100 words) with their submissions.
Authors need to submit their abstracts by using Footprint’s platform. Please name the file in the following way: Author Name _ Article Title _ Article Type _ Issue Number- (e.g. Smith_Ecologies_Full Article_FP33). Abstracts must be submitted by 22 April 2022.
Authors of selected abstracts will be invited to develop their contributions by 2 September 2022. Full articles go through a double-blind peer review process, while review articles are evaluated by the editors. We ask authors to refer to the Footprint author guidelines, available at: https://journals.open.tudelft.nl/index.php/footprint/about/submissions
All contributors are responsible for securing permission to use images and copyrighted materials.
For submissions and all other inquiries and correspondence, please contact editors Víctor Muñoz Sanz and Nikos Katsikis at: email@example.com, including ‘Footprint 33’ in the subject of the email.
Footprint 33 will be published in Autumn/Winter 2023.