Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Luque-Ayala, A., Marvin, S.
The maintenance of urban circulation: An operational logic of infrastructural control
(2016) Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 34 (2), pp. 191-208.

DOI: 10.1177/0263775815611422

This paper examines the increased visibility of urban infrastructures occurring through a close coupling of information technologies and the selective integration of urban services. It asks how circulatory flow is managed in the contemporary city, by focusing on the emergence of new forms of governmentality associated with “smart” technologies. Drawing on Foucault’s governmentality, and based on a case study of Rio de Janeiro’s Operations Centre (COR), the paper argues that new understandings of the city are being developed, representing a new mode of urban infrastructure based on the partial and selective rebundling of splintered networks and fragmented urban space. The COR operates through a “un-black boxing” of urban infrastructures, where the extension of control room logics to the totality of the city points to their fragility and the continuous effort involved in their operational accomplishment. It also functions through a collapse in relations of control—of the everyday and the emergency—, which, enabled by the incorporation of the public in operational control, further raise public awareness of urban infrastructures. These characteristics point to a specific form of urban governmentality based on the operationalisation of infrastructural flows and the development of novel ways of seeing and engaging with the city. © 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.

Author Keywords

black boxing; Control rooms; infrastructure; smart city; urban flows; urban governmentality

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