Digital Urban Imaginaries: Space, time and culture wars in the cyber-city

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In a paradigm where urban theorists are re-mapping the concept of “urban” as a planetary phenomenon (Brenner, 2014), both rooted to place and dynamic/relational in scale, scope, and process, cyberspace emerges as a crucial site of encounter and transformation (see Rose, 2016). “Space-time compression” (Massey, 1993) and the “network society” (Castells, 1996) have given rise to a new digital public with instant, real-time, social, cultural, and political networks forming and relating across diverse contexts, assembling into hybrids and temporary, yet powerful, linkages to material urban space in different cities. Meanwhile, populist cultural wars have erupted and ricochet around the planetary urban-scape in digital and material forms, linked in theme yet varied and highly contextualized. The cyber-city offers a lens to explore these cultural contestations and the ways that hybrid understandings of identity (gender, sexuality, race, religion) as well as class and ideology are formed by these cyber-encounters, and thus, transform the urban and expand the discussion on the digital urban imaginary. Engaging with the themes of the digital encounter, populism and the new authoritarianism sweeping the globe, this chapter highlights one example of the complex relationship between the built environment, cyberspace, and contested politics. The “Pink Dot” LGBTQ gathering in Singapore, and accompanying “Wear White” campaign, demonstrate the way that the political encounter occurs in and out of territory, and the power of populist imagery and symbols in material and immaterial forms. Substantively, this chapter explores the way that the urban cyberspace is crucial to negotiating, performing, and realizing transformative politics at scales much larger, more hybrid, and more planetary in nature than the territorial city itself. In cyberspace, the populist cultural encounter becomes a global conversation with a powerful capability to remake space, place, and politics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Companion to Urban Imaginaries
EditorsChristoph Lindner , Miriam Meissner
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781315163956
ISBN (Print)9781138058880
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


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