Public Engagement

General Public

Anthropology Lecture - Beth Coleman

Thursday, February 8, 2018 at 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Dorothy Hirshon Suite, Arnhold Hall, I205 55 West 13th Street, Room I-205, New York, NY 10011

Beth Coleman, Associate Professor of Experimental Digital Media at the University of Waterloo will deliver a lecture: "Right to the Smart City: Integrated design and the civic imaginary."

Abstract: In an age of smart technology, big data, and the concomitant threat of a surveillance society, how do we understand the citizen's right to the city and how that right is manifested? In this talk, I discuss my research relation to the complexity of the sociotechnological world we inhabit through the lens of smart city infrastructures and interaction design. The term “smart” describes autonomous computational processes built into the physical environment, such as traffic lights that work responsively (as opposed to mechanically) to fix congested roadways. Smart technologies, such as those projected for a smart city, presents risks and opportunities in regard to privacy, social inclusion, and civic futures. The rights of a civic body and the civic imaginary by which these rights may be articulated speak to valuable, albeit complex, intersectionalities of civic culture, such as race, class, and territory that address critical issues of our time: urban density, income inequality, economic and political instability, population mobility, environmental stewardship, among others. My work directly addresses a recognized gap in the smart city research domain that “civic actors are not yet central to smart city design.” Equally though, my research—manifest in ethnographic fieldwork, data analysis, and speculative design—speaks to a recognition of a poetic city as a critical aspect of the urban imaginary that should not be left aside from the projected efficiencies of the smart city. I address modes of engagement across platforms, formats, and context that include big data analysis, augmented realty (AR) interface, distributed narratives, games & play.

Presented by The New School for Social Research (NSSR)

Event Type

Lectures and Panel Discussions


General Public


Cities and Urbanism, Media and Technology


The New School for Social Research, Department of Anthropology


Anthropology, Technology

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