Hira Sheikh

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PhD Candidate | Thesis - Smart Urban Governance for More-than-Human Future(s)

Research program: Digital Inclusion & Participation

Research groups: Urban Media and Digital Geographies

Hira Sheikh is an architect, artist-curator, and scholar. She is a doctoral researcher with the Design Lab and Digital Media Research Centre at the Queensland University of Technology. With a background in Architectural Design, she holds Research Master’s in Media, Art, and Performance Studies from Utrecht University. She worked as an urban planning consultant at The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Sheikh’s research is situated in the interdisciplinary field of the environmental humanities. Her scholarly work focuses on urban, digital, and political issues to explore justice for other species. Her work has been published in Regional Studies and the Routledge Handbook of Digital Environmental Humanities. Her artistic and curatorial practice explores entangled relationships between humans and other species. Her collaborative work has been exhibited by; Queensland University of Technology and Queensland College of Art Galleries (Smart Urban Governance for More-than-Human Futures, 2022), IN x The Old Lock Up (Bee_rilise, 2022), and Ars Electronica.ART Global Gallery (REFRACTus, 2020).

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Thesis Abstract

Given the accelerating effects of environmental change, biodiversity loss, and rapid urbanisation, the concept of more-than-human cities has recently garnered much interest. However, urban governance practices in smart cities are still primarily driven by neoliberal and technocratic economic growth agendas. More-than-Human Future(s) of Smart Urban Governance is a critical response to technocratic, human-centred, and capitalist modes of smart urban governance in Brisbane, Australia. The study critically reviews the selective blindness and ethical repercussions of a technocratic approach to smart urban governance, which largely reinforces human exceptionalism whilst omitting our entanglements with nature. Drawing on a diversity of more-than-human perspectives across triad of data-driven technologies, cities, and politics, this study reveals the untapped potential of more-than-human approaches in smart urban governance.

The Ph.D. is situated at Urban Informatics Research Group at the QUT Design Lab and QUT Digital Media Research Centre. It is aligned with two of the QUT Design Lab’s programs: ‘Designing Creative and Resilient Communities’ and ‘Designing Future Technologies.’ It is further affiliated with DMRC’s GeoPrivacy ARC Discovery project and the DataCare project. It is also affiliated with the More-than-Human Futures Research Group in the Creative Industries Faculty.

Areas of Interest

  • More-than-Human and Multispecies Studies
  • Smart Urban Governance
  • Foresight Studies