Citizens resisting Smart Cities’ initiatives : The case of Concepción (Chile) and the R+D PACYT project.
Sammanfattning: Parque Científico y Tecnológico (PACYT, Science and Technology Park) is a large-scale R+D project that seems to be framed in a Smart City plan for Concepción, Chile, which the media has presented as “the Chilean Silicon Valley” (Araus, 2015; Tele13, 2019) and promises to bring not only research and development opportunities for the city but also thousands of direct and indirect jobs (Estudio Interdiseño, 2018; la Tercera, 2015) carried out by PACYT Corporation. Nonetheless, voices have raised to question the construction of the 91 hectares initiative, and some of them have even organized in citizen groups targeting the creation of the urban complex, which actively share information contesting the PACYT through social media, and coordinate activities to protest and spread the word. This is the study case to be analyzed in the present research, which aims to explore and understand, on the one hand, the reasons that have led to the organization of citizens contesting the PACYT project, and on the other hand, the way the project has been advertised and developed in relationship to the city's inhabitants. It intends to make a novel contribution to the field of Urban Studies, both in the areas of Critical Smart Urbanism and Postcolonial Studies, which in this case collide in Latin America, part of the Global South, while opening a discussion around the topic of citizens contesting urban developments with a Smart City background, where few incursions have been made and more specifically in the Latin American context, where the Smart City seems to have a particular interpretation. With that in mind, the current research tries to dig into an under-studied territory, and in doing so, it plans to bring to the table the relevance of studying the approach and way of developing Smart Cities’ ideas in Latin American, and to put focus on what city’s inhabitants have to say about those developments and what their interests are, using the lenses of the right to the city and the understandings coming from urban social movements and conflicts. In that sense, the research outputs are to question the form in which Smart City projects are being implemented in Latin America and to find possible guidelines to incorporate the city’s inhabitants in the development of them elsewhere, with that in mind, future research can be supported by this investigation, which encourages further studies both in the described fields and territory. To do so, the current investigation explores and unwrap theories regarding the mentioned fields and focuses on analyzing the case making use of mixed methods research, by executing qualitative and quantitative methodological tools to reach relevant data that helps to answer the research inquiries. In that sense, the results show that it can be confirmed that the nature of the PACYT, i.e. its R+D purposes and origins linked to a Smart City plan to transform the city into smartness, does not play a relevant role in the development of the conflict that has emerged between the PACYT management, and the people opposed to its construction, but several aspects explain the urban social conflict and that will be explored in the present work.
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