CFP – Digital Representations of Place: Urban Overlays and Digital Justice

Digital Representations of Place: Urban Overlays and Digital Justice

Call for papers: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, Cardiff University, 28–31 August 2018


Session sponsor: the Digital Geographies Working Group (DGWG)

Mark Graham (University of Oxford) and Martin Dittus (University of Oxford)

Over the last few decades, our cities have become increasingly digital. Urban environments are layered with data and algorithms that fundamentally shape our geographic interactions: impacting how we perceive, move through, and use space. Spatial justice is thus inextricably tied to data justice, and it has become imperative to ask questions about who owns, controls, shapes, and has access to those augmented and hybrid digital/physical layers of place. Now that over half of humanity is connected to the internet, do we see greater levels of representation of, and participation from, previously digitally disconnected populations? Or are our digitally dense environments continuing to amplify inequalities rather than alleviate them? A growing body of knowledge documents the societal impact such digital representations can have, for example when they favour the interests of one privileged group (such as tourists) at the expense of others. We seek to systematise this knowledge, and to provide guidance for practitioners, researchers, and policy-makers to address imbalances and inequalities in representation.

Our workshop will follow a “split session” format. In the first slot, short talks by scholars outline exemplary scenarios, and describe the state of our current understanding. In the second slot, participants discuss some central themes in a World Café format (facilitated discussion groups), guided by short provocations. Their observations and recommendations will be shared with the wider community.

We are looking for speakers on questions that include, but are not limited to:

  • What are undesirable aspects in digital representations of place? Can we identify specific forms of unequal representation?
  • How can we categorise them — by impact, by affected party, …?
  • How can we best monitor such inequalities?
  • What should we be striving for? What does a more just digitally augmented world look like?
  • What actions can geographers and the wider public take to address digital inequalities? For example, can we provide cartographic guidance for better representation of specific groups?

To submit a talk proposal, please send a title and abstract of no more than 250 words to Martin Dittus ( and Mark Graham ( by Monday, 12th February 2018.

Also send us a message if you are interested in submitting a paper but would like to discuss your ideas first, or if there are any questions.