Portable Urbanism: Politics and Materialities of Movements in Mediated Cities
Free Economic Zones (FEZ), GrubHub, credit cards, data centers, radio stations, airports, bus stops, train stations, food containers, laptops, and smartphones -- our everyday life in the cities has always been shaped and transformed by "movements" of goods, data, persons, and things. The complex networks of mobilities and infrastructures "mediate" movements that are intrinsic to collective life forms in the cities, which in turn, produce necessary social relations and labor forces that animate those movements.
Within an emergent economy based on data and platforms, cities and their movements are becoming more traceable and optimizable. Cities are imagined as vast and complex logistical networks that integrate things and persons as nodes in the system, leading to a sense of a world that is on the move real-time and ever-speeding up, weighing pressure on us and our cities to constantly catch up and update. What then, are the actual and material implications of our life in the cities that are organized around the principles of speed and mobility? How has our life been transformed by transportation technologies and app-based services that cater to the renewed needs for ubiquitous mobility? How does the distinction between fast and slow enact the new category of division between different social groups? What happens to the old and residual mobilities and people who resist adapting to the new data-based regime of mobility?
My project investigates the material, cultural, and societal aspects of laboring and moving in the hyper-mediated cities in the present. The research traces the networks of mobilities that have given shapes to the lives of people working in the food delivery services (GrubHub, Chowbus, Doordash, etc.) and boxing and shipping industry to see how they manage precarious working conditions and pressures in high-speed society.
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