Jathan Sadowski headshot

I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Smart Cities at the University of Sydney. In 2016, I finished my PhD in the "Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology" from Arizona State University.

My research brings together technology studies, urban geography, political economy, and social theory. I apply this interdisciplinary approach to the study of “smart systems” (data-driven, networked, automated). Broadly, I'm interested in how issues such as power asymmetries, uneven development, and competing values influence the design and use of digital tech. I believe that by analyzing the institutions, interests, ideologies, and material conditions that influence how/what socio-technical systems are built we can then better engage with their impacts and guide their creation. To that end, my work is typically concerned with transformative technologies that are being used to shape society—at different scales, to different degrees, and by different actors—now and in the near future.

My current project seeks to shift the focus of smart urbanism research from the conceptual to the material and from the speculative to the actual. Through an urban ethnography of smart initiatives in Sydney, Australia, the project studies how these policies and technologies are designed and implemented, and how are they are used and challenged by community organizations. Thus, the goal is not only to flesh out a better understanding of the actually existing smart city, but also consider how the values of communities and users can inform the design of alternative smart cities. This project is grounded in the theory of cyborg urbanization. By emphasizing how material, political, social, and spatial assemblages are made, how they interface with people, and how they impact urban society, this theory provides a useful tool for investigating and interpreting the (smart) city.

I am also a freelance writer. I've published features, op-eds, and book reviews about the politics/ethics of technology for many popular media outlets, such as The Guardian, The Nation, and Al Jazeera America. See the media tab for a list of my pubs. If you want to commission work, please contact me via email or twitter.

Email: Jathan.Sadowski [at] sydney.edu.au