CfP at AAG 2016: An Informational Right to the City? Rethinking the Production, Consumption, and Governance of Digital Geographic Information

After presenting our paper on the same theme at ICCG 2015 in Palestine, myself and Mark Graham are planning a session for the Association of American Geographers’ annual meeting in San Francisco during Spring 2016. The session aims to provide a space for discussion and research that seeks to ask what a ‘right to the city’ looks like in our increasingly digital world. Interested contributors should read the call for papers below and drop myself or Mark an email to express interest.


An Informational Right to the City? Rethinking the Production, Consumption, and Governance of Digital Geographic Information

Organisers: Joe Shaw and Mark Graham (University of Oxford)
Discussant: Andy Merrifield

Henri Lefebvre (2003:251) once talked of the right to information as a complement to the right to the city. Since then, information communication technologies have become integrally embedded into much of everyday life. The speed of these developments has also obfuscated many changes and processes that now envelop and define the urban experience. This includes changes in systems of abstract spatial representation through geographic information, and the economies surrounding this information as a commodity. The representations which are produced and mediated through this digital information are now contributing to an urban space that is densely digitally layered (Graham, M., M. Zook, and A. Boulton. 2013). These digital ‘abstract’ spaces are essential to the production and re-production of our socio-economic world (Lefebvre, 1991). From Wikipedia to Google Maps and TripAdvisor, the code and content that relates to a building is now potentially as important as its bricks and mortar. These processes raise new questions of spatial justice and the urbanization of information: Which spaces are seen, and which are hidden? How is information produced, for whom, and who consumes it? How does information change material places? Who are the powerful actors in these events, and who are powerless? And finally, is the broader concept of an ‘informational right to the city’ now required? If so, how should it be envisioned and put into practice? This session invites submissions concerned with the production, consumption, and governance of urban geographic information, and it encourages research and reflections that seek to rethink what informational rights we have in our hybrid material/digital cities.


Lefebvre, H. (1991). The production of space. (D. Nicholson-Smith & D. N.- Smith, Eds.). Oxford: Oxford : Blackwell.
Lefebvre, H. (2003). Henri Lefebvre: key writings. (S. Elden, E. Lebas, & E. Kofman, Eds.). New York: New York.
Graham, M., Zook, M., & Boulton, A. (2013). Augmented reality in urban places: contested content and the duplicity of code. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 38(3), 464–479.

Please email abstracts of no more than 300 words to Mark Graham ( or Joe Shaw ( by Friday 2nd October 2015. Successful submissions will be contacted by 9th October 2015 and will be expected to pay the registration fee and submit their abstracts online at the AAG website by October 29th 2015.

Joe Shaw

Joe Shaw is an OII DPhil student. His research focuses on the geography of information, real estate technologies and critical urbanism.