One country, two datasets : smart city politics in Hong Kong

Document Type


Source Publication

4S/EASST Conference 2016

Publication Date



European Association for the Study of Science and Technology


This paper addresses the conceptual and methodological problems encountered in formulating a critique of Asian smart urbanism, and more particularly the informational and infrastructural politics of Hong Kong as an aspiring, non-Western smart city. Smart-city critique in the West often foregrounds a Deleuze-inspired thesis on the operation of networked, microphysical power in neoliberalized societies of control. What generates power as control are "the connections and processes of everyday urban inhabitations within computational modalities" (Gabrys 2014, 38). Yet this paper argues that in order not to mimic the universalizing tendencies of smart city capitalism, the critique of the smart city ought to be contextual. It proposes to integrate the politics of data—including critical issues regarding connectivity, computation, access, re-use, surveillance —with a politics of knowledge involving struggles around distributions of the visible, knowable, sayable, and actionable. In Hong Kong specifically, diverse collectivities that are more or less loosely connected utilize data applications to produce knowledge about their city and the political will of citizens. The articulation between the politics of data and the politics of knowledge indicates the return as well as remediation of concepts such as sovereignty, political will, and identity—all of which have to do with the current erosion of the "One Country, Two Systems" agreement between China and Hong Kong. While informational flow and architectures are articulated to discourses of the "free society" in techno-centric apparatuses of smart city governance, the freedoms and entitlements data-producing and -processing citizens are looking for are of a different order.



Recommended Citation

Hoyng, R. (2016, September). One country, two datasets: Smart city politics in Hong Kong. Paper presented at the 4S/EASST Conference 2016, Barcelona.

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