Call for Reviews
CROLAR Vol. 5(4): Digitalizing Urban Latin America - A New Layer for
Twenty years after Manuel Castells’ proclamation of the “Network Society”
(1996), digitalization plays an ever-growing role in urban society. The
“Smart City”, for instance, promises more functional transport systems,
access to internet technologies for all, and safe public spaces due to
video surveillance 24/7. In addition, processing “Big Data” shall improve
disaster prediction and community resilience in the age of “real-time
urbanism” (Chandler, 2015), especially in the crisis-driven metropolises
of the Global South. However, the free-to-access digital infrastructure
has already been unmasked as just another myth (Coutard & Rutherford,
2016). Cities’ digital “new skin” (Rabari & Storper, 2014) requires new
theories and research methods to understand the spatial, social, political
and cultural effects of digital technologies, the relationship between
data and the urban, and the very notions of (big) data and connectivity.
Urban Latin America occupies a privileged position in this research
agenda. Latin American metropolises continue to show violent expressions
of social inequalities such as socio-spatial segregation, racialized
violence, police and military oppression, poverty, and environmental
degradation. Yet, they are also key sites for contesting the “neoliberal
project” (Miraftab et al., 2015). While digitalization promises to improve
life quality, economic growth and human development, it is questionable
whether digitalization helps to overcome historically established
structural inequalities on a global and local scale. Does digitalization
simply add a new layer to “durable” (Tilly, 1996) local and global
north-south inequities, with investment opportunities for the few,
consumerist life styles for the many, yet disconnections and digital
exclusion for the all-time marginalized?
This special issue of CROLAR – “DIGITALIZING URBAN LATIN AMERICA – A New
Layer for Persistent Inequalities?” provides a forum to discuss how
digital technological innovation relates to social inequalities in urban
Latin America. Which are the social, political, cultural and economic
opportunities and obstacles that digitalization provides for more equal,
just, participatory or inclusive urbanization? We invite reviews of
empirically informed research on digitalizing urban Latin America,
outlining potentials and pitfalls of digitalization in urban politics and
planning, surveillance and securitization, (cyber)warfare and urban
insurgencies, social and economic inclusion, community resilience, social
protest and methods of doing research on and in cities.
We are looking for book reviews that address, but are not necessarily
limited to, the following thematic clusters:
1. Digital technologies facilitate access to public urban services and
planning processes, and contribute to more effectively planning and
monitoring urbanization and improving communities’ resilience to disasters
and crises of all kind. Digital technologies therefore touch on issues of
democracy, transparency and accountability, but are also subject to
critics regarding social control, extensive racial profiling, and mass
2. Digitalization of urban planning and management techniques bears the
risk of increasingly relying on expert knowledge. The question is whether
facilitating access to information technology engenders a broader process
towards social inclusion of marginalized groups into the urban fabric
overcoming serious obstacles, for example, digital illiteracy.
3. Digitalization affects the way social protest and political resistance
is organized and expressed. Yet, the use and development of social media
in urban Latin America also meet with possibilities for repressive control
as well as commercialization and privatization of the networks.
4. Digitalization is closely linked to urban infrastructures. In the sense
of Castells’ above cited work, and later publications by Graham &
McFarlane (2014), Graham & Marvin (2001) and Brenner & Schmid (2014),
issues of rural-urban connectivity, (infrastructural) inclusion of rural
areas into Global City - steered agro-industrial networks - and thus the
urbanization of the globe via networks of goods, humans and information,
are increasingly subject to academic debates.
5. As today’s increasingly connected “feral” (Norton, 2003) cities are
considered threats for global security (Kilcullen, 2013), a growing body
of literature addresses the nexus between digitalization and urbanity from
the viewpoint of securitization and, in particular, urban warfare,
terrorism, counterinsurgency and smart policing.
6. Researching (in) urban Latin America has been transformed by digital
methodical techniques and skills and by the digital circulation and
availability of research results. We also invite reviews of academic
literature that applies big data analyses to studies of urban governance,
land use regularization and service provision in cities and/or critically
engages with the modes and implications of producing, gathering,
distributing and visualizing data in and for urban studies.
CROLAR encourages reviews of publications from diverse academic
disciplines. In addition to single-book reviews, this volume features
review articles with a thematic focus. These reviews should cover 3-5
books on current debates or a given topic. We are also actively
encouraging reviews of works that transcend the limits of academic
production, aimed at a larger audience and related to current events. They
will be published in the section “Interventions” and may include reviews
of works by journalists, activists, practitioners, artists and others. For
this particular section, we suggest reviewers to write about projects that
are not in book format, such as documentaries, blogs, websites and
Reviews and review articles must be submitted before 31.07.2016. They can
be written in Spanish, English, Portuguese or German. Ideally, the review
should be in a different language than the reviewed publication or
project. The formal requirements for reviews can be found at
We are looking forward to reading from you! If you are interested in
writing a review or have any other suggestions or questions, please
contact the editors of the volume: Frank Müller
(firstname.lastname@example.org) and Ramiro Segura (email@example.com).
Brenner, N. (2014) (Ed.) Implosions/Explosions. Towards a Study of
Planetary Urbanization. Berlin: Jovis Verlag.
Castells, M. (1996). The Rise of the Network Society. Malden, MA:
Chandler, D. (2015). A World without Causation: Big Data and the Coming of
Age of Posthumanism. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, pp.
Coutard, O. & Rutherford, J. (2016) (Eds.). Beyond the Networked City:
Infrastructure reconfigurations and urban change in the North and South.
New York: Routledge.
Graham, S. & McFarlane, C. (2015). Infrastructural Lives. Urban
Infrastructure in Context. New York: Routledge.
Graham, S. & Marvin, S. (2001). Splintering Urbanism: Networked
Infrastructures, Technological Mobilities, and the Urban Condition.
Kilcullen, D. (2013). Out of the Mountains, the Coming Age of the Urban
Guerrilla. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Miraftab, F., Wilson, D., & Salo, K. (2015) (Eds.). Cities and
Inequalities in a Global and Neoliberal World. New York: Routledge.
Norton, R. J. (2003). Feral Cities. Naval War College Review, 56 (4), pp.
Rabari, C. & Storper, M. (2014). The Digital Skin of Cities: Urban Theory
and Research in the Age of the Sensored and Metered City, Ubiquitous
Computing, and Big Data. Working Paper. Department of Urban Planning
Luskin School of Public Affairs UCLA.
Tilly, C. (1998). Durable Inequality. Berkeley: University of California