New publication: The ‘Smart safe city’’


Speed is fundamental to shaping visions of the modern city and of contemporary urban life. Notions of speed and acceleration have produced distinct conceptualisations of rapid urbanization as a rush towards progress and opportunity. In this paper, I examine what speed looks like from the margins, when seen from the vantage point of young women struggling to find jobs and gain education in the city, while negotiating deeply entrenched gender power relations within the home. By examining how speed is conceptualized in the trope of the smart safe city and what this means for those living in the urban peripheries, I examine how a negotiation of time becomes fundamental to living life in the margins. Using methods of time-mapping in participatory workshops, whatsapp diaries and in-depth interviews, I will argue that for those living life in the margins, everyday struggles are entrenched in time struggles between the rhythms of the city and the rhythms of family life. While the focus on the ‘smart safe city’ in India mobilises the logics of a ‘technological fix’, for these women, the mobile phone is often the only technology to cope with their daily time struggles. This paper will conclude that while transformations of ideas of speed and time in the smart safe city shapes practices of measuring, visualising and representing violence against women through technology, those in the urban peripheries encounter and negotiate its spatio-temporalities through a slow violence of life that is invisible and unfolding over time and space.

Link to Free Online article: The “Smart Safe City”: Gendered Time, Speed, and Violence in the Margins of India’s Urban Age