Digital cities for humans or for profit?

Hosted by the Department of Media and Communications and LSE Cities

In-person and online public event (Auditorium, Centre Building)


Sara Alsherif

Sara Alsherif

Professor Ayona Datta

Professor Ayona Datta

Professor Myria Georgiou

Professor Myria Georgiou

Dr Matt Mahmoudi

Dr Matt Mahmoudi


Professor Ben Rogers

Professor Ben Rogers

How is life in digital cities changing what it means to be human? Does digitization change cities and the lives of those inhabiting them? This event seeks to explore the politics and ethics that drive digital change in cities and the consequences of digitization for the lives and rights of those who occupy them.

On the occasion of Myria Georgiou’s book publication, Being Human in Digital Cities, this panel brings together experts on digital urbanism and on digital justice to address from their different perspectives a number of questions: What are the values driving digital change and ‘smartcitization’? Who speaks and who is silenced when digital cities are planned and realised in the name of urban humanity’s progress? Can we imagine alternative digital futures in cities torn by inequalities and divisions? Investigating the dynamic workings of technology and power from a transnational and comparative perspective, the panellists examine the contradictory claims and struggles for the future of digital cities and their humanity. In doing so, the panel seeks to enrich understandings of digital urbanism, digital justice, and critical humanist studies.

Meet our speakers and chair

Sara Alsherif (@Sarahalsherif) is a human/rights defender and researcher in digital rights with a Master’s degree in digital media from the University of Sussex. She leads the Open Rights Group campaign Migrant Digital Justice. In 2021, Sara launched a podcast in Arabic called Talk-Nology addressing issues of technology and people’s rights. She has been involved in several studies on code bias, machine learning and recognition technology, and their human rights implications.

Ayona Datta (@AyonaDatta) is Professor of Human Geography at UCL. Her research interests are in postcolonial urbanism, smart cities, gender citizenship and regional futures. Her current research on regional futures seeks to advance theoretical and empirical insights into the relationship between digitalisation and urbanisation in the global south. Professor Datta is the author and (co-)editor of four book and she has been the frontline editor of Urban Geography since 2017.

Myria Georgiou (@MyriaGeorgiou4) is Professor of Media and Communications in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE. Her research focuses on media and the city; urban technologies and politics of connection; and the ways in which migration and diaspora are politically, culturally and morally constituted in the context of mediation. She is the (co-)author and (co-)editor of seven books. Her most recent book is Being Human in Digital Cities.

Matt Mahmoudi (@DocMattMoudi) is a lecturer, researcher, and organizer. He’s been leading the ‘Ban the Scan’ campaign, Amnesty International’s research and advocacy efforts on banning facial recognition and exposing their uses against racialized communities, from New York City to the occupied Palestinian territories. He was the inaugural Jo Cox PhD scholar at the University of Cambridge, studying digital urban infrastructures as new frontiers for racial capitalism, where he remains an Affiliated Lecturer in Sociology. He’s an editor on Resisting Borders and Technologies of Violence.

Ben Rogers (@ben_rog) is the Bloomberg Distinguished Fellow in Government Innovation and Director of the European Cities Programme at LSE Cities. He is also Professor of Practice at the University of London and former Director and founder of Centre for London, an influential think tank on London policy, with an international following. He writes on cities, citizenship, public service reform and the built environment.

More about this event

This event will be available to watch on LSE Live. LSE Live is the new home for our live streams, allowing you to tune in and join the global debate at LSE, wherever you are in the world. If you can't attend live, a video will be made available shortly afterwards on LSE's YouTube channel.

The Department of Media and Communications (@MediaLSE) is a world-leading centre for education and research in communication and media studies at the heart of LSE’s academic community in central London. The Department is ranked #1 in the UK and #3 globally in the field of media and communications (2021 QS World University Rankings).

LSE Cities (@LSECities) is an international centre carrying out research, education, advisory and engagement activities investigating the social, spatial and environmental complexities of the 21st century city.

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