Critical geographies of smart development

Hilary Oliva Faxon, Kendra Kintzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The development of smart infrastructures is a political act that intersects, in powerful ways, with ongoing decolonial struggles across the uneven landscapes of the postcolonial world. This paper develops a grounded, relational approach to the critical geographies of smart development that starts from place-based relations of power to investigate how specific postcolonial dynamics inflect the global articulation of smart development. Drawing on the work of Gillian Hart, our approach situates the development of smart infrastructures within longer, contested histories of geopolitical intervention and capitalist transformation and foregrounds ongoing land, labour and livelihood struggles that transect the urban–rural divide. Using critical ethnography and relational comparison in South East Asia and the Middle East, we show how Myanmar's smart farms and Jordan's smart grid were built and selectively adapted or refused in ways that furthered existing inequalities and ontologies of disconnection, while providing material conduits for the enhancement of ethno-nationalist projects to define the postcolonial state. This approach reframes the stakes of smart development, providing pathways for generative comparison that centres ongoing equity struggles and historically situated constellations of power to understand how smart development materialises in the postcolonial world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)898-911
Number of pages14
JournalTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Jordan
  • Myanmar
  • digital geography
  • smart infrastructure
  • uneven development


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