Smart Urban Governance for More-than-Human Future(s): PhD Confirmation of Candidature Seminar

PhD Confirmation of Candidature Seminar: Hira Sheikh

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. This study on Smart Urban Governance for More-than-Human Future(s) is a critical response to technocratic, human-centred, and capitalist modes of smart urban governance. 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 the triad of data-driven technologies (smart), cities (urban), politics (governance), this study reveals the untapped potential of more-than-human approaches in smart urban governance. More-than-Human perspectives enable the study’s analysis to move beyond the centrality of humans in order to embrace the complex messiness of human-nonhuman lives and relationships.

Using transition design as a forecasting and backcasting practice, this research explores alternative more-than-human future(s) to develop a more-than-human smart urban governance framework. The transition design approach in this research includes three phases: (1) Phase I: Fieldwork, (2) Phase II: Studio; and (3) Phase III: Exhibition. The phases of transition design explore three scenarios – urban property law, urban cohabitation, and urban farms through a more-than-human lens – under the three speculative governance models: natural capital, legal personhood of nature, and urban commons. The three phases of transition design inform the development of a more-than-human smart urban governance framework. It is hoped that the framework will influence governments to establish design and policy environments that enable more-than-human urban future(s), and, at the same time, contribute to the knowledge gap: applying more-than-human perspectives towards smart urban governance.

Principal Supervisor: Prof. Marcus Foth
Associate Supervisors: Assoc. Prof. Peta Mitchell
Panel Member: Assoc. Prof. Felicity Deane
Panel Chair: Assoc. Prof. Alice Payne

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