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Upcoming talk: Gillian Rose, "data bodies, smart bodies and sensible bodies: posthuman corporeality in the digitally mediated city"

Date & Time:
March 26, 2019 | 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
EEEL 161
Gillian Rose is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of the British Academy. 

data bodies, smart bodies and sensible bodies: posthuman corporeality in the digitally mediated city

Digital technologies of various kinds are now the means through which many cities are made visible and their spatialities negotiated. From casual snaps shared on Instagram to elaborate photo-realistic visualisations, digital technologies for making, distributing and viewing cities are more and more pervasive. This talk will explore some of the implications of that digital mediation for the bodies assembled in digitally mediated urban spaces. What forms of embodiment are being made visible in these digitally mediated cities, and how? Through what configuration of urban temporality, spatiality and sociality? And how should that picturing be theorised?  Drawing on recent work on the visualisation of so-called 'smart cities', the lecture will suggest the scale and pervasiveness of digital imagery now means that notions of 'representation' have to be rethought.  Cities and their inhabitants are increasingly mediated through a febrile cloud of streaming image files; as well as representing cities, this cloud also operationalises particular ways of being urban.  The lecture will explore some of the implications of this shift for both theory and method as well as critique.


Gillian Rose is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of the British Academy. She is the author of Feminism and Geography (Polity, 1993), Doing Family Photography (Ashgate, 2010) and Visual Methodologies (Sage, fourth edition 2016), as well as a many papers on images, visualising technologies and ways of seeing in urban, domestic and archival spaces. She is leading the ESRC-funded project Smart Cities in the Making: Learning from Milton Keynes; her particular interest is how digital visualisations of many kinds operationalise smart cities ( She also curates the digital | visual | cultural series of events ( Gillian’s webpage is at; she blogs at visual/method/culture and can be found on Twitter @ProfGillian.


Dr. Rose's visit to Calgary is organized by the Social Justice and the Smart City Interdisciplinary Working Group at the Calgary Institute for the Humanities. To find out more about the group and to contact the conveners about participating in their research activities, please visit their website:

We're Hiring! Funded post-doc and 2 MA positions at University of Calgary

Dr. Victoria Fast & Dr. Ryan Burns are pleased to announce three fully funded positions in the Department of Geography at the University of Calgary. We are recruiting emerging researchers to fill one Post-Doctoral Fellowship and two MA opportunities.

Post-Doctoral Fellowship

As cities across the world turn to information and communication technologies to overcome social, environmental, and economic challenges, new questions are arising around whose interests are served, who is left out, and how we might strive for greater social justice in this new context. We seek a post-doctoral scholar who specializes in research related to digital geographies, social justice, and smart cities to take a leading role in a project designed to deepen understanding of how assemblages of technologies, data flows, policies, actors, and systems of governance across geographic contexts influence the differential implications of smart cities. In this project we are particularly interested in struggles around competing notions of social justice: how particular conceptions are operationalized, (re)produced, and contested in new socio-technical milieu. The ideal candidate will be able to place these considerations into the broader context of the developing research agenda of digital geographies: the interdisciplinary study of the implications of society, space, and technology’s mutual imbrications.

The ideal candidate will be a scholar with a PhD (ABD will be considered) in geography, urban studies, communications, sociology, or a related field, who will maintain a high degree of research productivity and extend existing capacities of the growing UC Citiesresearch group. They will demonstrate a high degree of self-direction and creativity, and will ideally be familiar with the Canadian funding landscape. They will be expected to apply for further funding. This position is initially for TWO years, with the possibility of renewal pending successful funding applications.

We especially encourage applications from scholars representing First Nations-majority areas and cities in the Global South. We will give special consideration to minorities with regard to race, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, class, and disability.

By October 19, Please send your CV, a cover letter outlining broad research interests and contributions, and a one-page research proposal pertaining to the themes above, to and Successful applicants will be required to provide letters of reference.

Fall 2019 MA opportunity: the politics of open data

The successful candidate will join the Engaging Open Data Research project, headed by Dr. Ryan Burns, to study struggles around how data are produced, circulated, and acted upon in smart cities. In close collaboration with non-profit organizations and community associations in Calgary, this project seeks to deepen our understanding of the growing, yet uneven and complex, impacts of open data platforms and policies within smart cities. The ideal candidate will play a leading role in this project’s efforts to advance debates in digital geographies and the social implications of new technologies.

The ideal candidate should demonstrate a record of strong, proactive, and independent intellectual growth and contributions to their local communities (broadly defined). They should demonstrate excellence in their endeavors to date, suggesting the ability to develop creative insights into the research goals. They would ideally have broad methodological training, but be ready to engage with primarily qualitative methods. They will be expected to provide a complementary tack to this research, for the successful completion of their master’s program.

The successful candidate will begin their master’s program September 2019, with research assistant opportunity starting summer 2019. Formal applications to the master’s program are due January 5th, 2019.

By October 19, please send your CV, statement of interest, and transcripts (unofficial accepted) to Successful applicants will be required to provide letters of reference.

Fall 2019 MA opportunity: Accessible Mobility in the Smart City

The successful candidate will join the Urban Participation Lab of Digital Geographies, headed by Dr. Victoria Fast, to study barrier-free mobility. Drawing on participatory GIS, smart cities, and critical disability studies, the funded project will focus on crowdsourcing spatial data on barriers and aids to accessibility mobility for people with disabilities. The ideal candidate will be able to spatially analyze the data while also developing a critical understanding of the physical, political, and social barriers to a more accessible urban and digital environment.

The ideal candidate must demonstrate a record of scholarly achievement and contributions to their local communities (broadly defined). They would ideally have a strong GIS background, and a demonstrated interested in social/disability advocacy. I especially encourage applications with disability/ies to apply.

The successful candidate will begin their master’s program September 2019, with research assistant opportunity starting summer 2019. Formal applications to the master’s program are due January 5th, 2019.

By October 19, please send your CV, statement of interest, and transcripts (unofficial accepted) to Successful applicants will be required to provide letters of reference.

About the University of Calgary / the City of Calgary:

The University of Calgary is in the Top 10 universities in Canada, offering ample opportunities for professional and personal development. The City of Calgary is often ranked one of the most livable cities in the world (Economist ranked #4 in 2018), with an extensive urban pathway and bike system, and only an hour from the Rocky Mountains. With 1.2 million inhabitants, the city is dynamic, diverse, safe, sunny (333 days of sunshine annually), and family-friendly. Find more information here:

Join our 9th-floor corner research space with a 180-degree view of campus and the Rockies!

Call for Papers: Spectral City | November 2-3, 2018

The Calgary Institute for the Humanities invites proposals on the theme of "Spectral Cities" for the 2018 convening of the Western Humanities Alliance conference in Calgary. 

Freud compared the unconscious to the city of Rome, a place haunted by older versions of itself. What are the cities that haunt our cities and our imaginations: lost cities, forgotten cities, ideal cities, imaginary cities? How have fictional or filmic versions of the cities shaped the perception of real ones? How do these spectral cities interact with the everyday ones? What different versions of the city appear when we look at the everyday one from a different angle or in a different light: cities of animals, cities of transience, cities of opposition? These spectral cities can include utopian urban programs, forgotten city planning exercises, past versions of the city captured in media, film, or literature, as well as other kinds of city ghosts and ghost towns. Proposals are invited on the representation of cities in art and literature, the role of ideal and imaginary cities, utopias and dystopias, alternative histories, alternative atlases and psychogeographies; undergrounds and underground cities; the city as assemblage, the city as a system, the city as biosphere.

The conference will be held in the spectacular new Calgary Central Public Library, next to Studio Bell: National Music Centre. Featuring exhibitions and tours by the Calgary Atlas Project.

For more information on the conference, please click here


Ato Quayson, Director, Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies (U of Toronto); author of Oxford Street, Accra: City Life and the Itineraries of Transnationalism (Oxford, 2014)

Abraham Akkerman, (U of Saskatchewan), author of Phenomenology of the Winter City (Springer, 2016)

Larissa Fassler, Artist (Berlin):

To learn more about the Calgary Institute of Humanities, please click here

13th Annual Critical Geographies Conference | September 28-29, 2018

The University of Calgary will host the 13th iteration of the Critical Geographies Mini-conference, which advances pressing research debates around human dimensions of climate change, social and interpersonal strategies for mental well-being, and the role of technologies in a quickly-changing world. Connecting all these topics, however, is a concern for social and political change, particularly for marginalized people. The conference has received the support of the Faculty of Arts, Vice President of Research, the Department of Geography, the interdisciplinary research network UC Cities, and the graduate student organizations The Urban Research Network (TURN), Geography Student Association (GeogSA), and Latin American Research Centre. The conference's first cohesive theme is the idea of “Crisis”: for example, ecological crisis, political crisis, humanitarian crisis, or socio-technical crisis. Tiffany Muller-Myrdhal, Senior Lecturer of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at Simon Fraser University, has agreed to deliver a keynote talk. The conference will be preceded by a graduate student-oriented workshop around radicalism within and beyond academia, and a post-conference urban hike exploring the urban vacancy crisis in Calgary.

Hayek's Alexa: Architectonic Impulses in the Smart City | May 17, 2018

Smart cities theory and policy emphasizes the new — new cities, new technologies, and new possibilities of efficiency, innovation, and optimization. While some of the technological details of smart cities are indeed new, the underlying philosophy involves economic and policy traditions built in the mid-twentieth century— which were in turn premised on nineteenth-century epistemological revolutions. Today's Silicon Valley smart-city disruptions are the culmination of the social and political philosophies of Friedrich von Hayek, fused with World War II cybernetics and the evolutionary methodological syntheses of Francis Galton and Karl Pearson. Today’s cosmopolitan world urban system, with its promises of politically neutral managerial efficiency, encodes dominant but unstable operating system of social and cultural conservatism that consolidated the self-perceptions of Western civilization. Yet the evolution of conservatism—especially American conservatism—has produced an ignorance of its own history and contradictions. The planetary urbanization of Hayek’s smart-cities triumph, therefore, promises a transhumanist future of apocalyptic beauty in a robotic siege of the very foundations of cultural conservatism.

Elvin WylyProfessor and Chair of the Urban Studies Program, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia

His research focuses on the interplay between market processes and public policy in the production of urban social inequality. His current research projects focus on the racialized dynamics of capital investment and disinvestment in U.S. cities, evolving trajectories of gentrification, histories of epistemology in urban geography, and the urban implications of mass social networking practices.

Data-driven Governance: Post-truth politics? | March 6, 2018

While the explosion of new sources of data and analytical techniques has left cities clamoring to become 'smart', the availability of this data hasn't led to an inexorable shift towards either more rational governance nor more equitable outcomes. This talk explores how the rise of data-driven urban governance has corresponded with the emergence of a kind of 'post-truth' politics, where appeals to data and scientific expertise carry even less weight than they might have previously. Drawing on ongoing research from Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky that uses mapping and data analysis to highlight urban socio-spatial inequalities, this presentation will highlight the contradictions and limitations of such research, and of the potentials for a more data-driven form of resistance to such inequality. 

Taylor SheltonAssistant Professor, Department of Geosciences, Mississippi State University

Dr. Shelton's work focuses on exploring the social and spatial dimensions of emerging sources of 'big data', combining the analysis and visualization of spatial data with a critical and theoretically-informed understanding of how this data shapes our understandings of the world. In particular, he is interested in how such a critical approach to mapping can be used to develop alternative understandings of urban social and spatial inequalities. 

The Social and Environmental Implications of Smart Cities: Toward a Global Comparative Research Agenda | August 17-19, 2017

A three-day conference hosted by the University of Calgary featuring presentations from local and global scholars on the challenges smart cities pose on aspects of governance, surveillance, justice, and policy mobility. On the third day, a road trip to Kananaskis was offered with activities ranging from a hike of Prairie View Trail to a group discussion of global comparative research design. 

The keynote speakers included:

 Anthony YehHong Kong University, "Smart Cities in Pacific Asia: Roles of Government and Private Sectors"

Darshini MahadeviaCEPT University, "Land Governance and Contestations in Smart City Projects in India"

Carla Bailo and Harvey MillerOhio State University, "The Columbus Smart City Project: Big Opportunities and Big Challenges"

Clara Irazabal-ZuritaUniversity of Missouri, "Striving for Smarter Cities: The Good, the Bad, and the Smarter in Latin America and Beyond"

Nancy OdendaalUniversity of Cape Town, "Does the African Smart City Exist? On Understanding Livelihoods and Technology Appropriation in African Cities"

Urban Studies Research Group Strategy Workshop | April 13, 2017

In March 2017, members of the Urban Studies Research Group (UBGR) were awarded a SSHRC Connection Grant to hold a workshop on global comparative smart cities research. The keynote speaker for this workshop was Linda Peake, who is the Director of the City Institute at York University.

Linda PeakeDirector, The City Institute at York University

Her research interests focus on issues of feminist geographies of gender, race and sexuality, particularly as they pertain to the global south, and specifically Guyana. In addition, her work in Guyana she also has long-standing interests in urban based research on women in cities; on whiteness and on developing anti-racist practices in Geography; and feminist methodologies, particularly in terms of the work these do in transnational feminist praxis.

The CITY Institute at York UniversityToronto

The mandate of the City Institute, since its inauguration in 2006, has been to facilitate critical, diverse, interdisciplinary and collaborative research on a wide range of urban matters and to promote dialogue on Canada’s urban agenda at York and beyond. It is the explicit goal of the City Institute to increase the research performance of the university through an assertive program of obtaining sponsored research income that can help fulfill the goals set under the mandate of the ORUs. The Institute is also a primary body for developing a community of urban scholars at York University. Through these initiatives, the City Institute will enhance the reputation of York University and its urban researchers in the region, nationally and globally. The City Institute is positioning itself as a national leader and an internationally recognized reference institution in urban research.