Bernard Stiegler on the idea of a contributory territory

To give some background to the themes influencing the Creative Territories networking project, I’ll post some comments translated from a short interview with Stiegler about a project we was involved with on behalf of Ars Industrialis (the organision he cofounded to promote analysis and interventions into contemporary technoculture and society). the project was to explore and contribute to the city of Nantes’ recent efforts to redevelop its central port district which has experienced a period of post-industrial decline. the interview is published in the journal Place Publique 45 (May-June 2014).

Stiegler is sharply critical of the rhetoric of the creative class (Richard Florida) and the usual formulations around the idea of ‘smart cities’. for him these too easily slip into a short termist, speculative hype that generates the kinds of redvelopment that ignore important and longstanding issues to do with urban decline, and moreover, exacerbate it through an emphasis on unsustainable notions of global and immaterial economic reinvention that pay little attention to what is required for cultural and community transformation in the age of digital, globalising and realtime technologies:

Digital technologies, he argues, “can equally wither the life of a territory as revive it – to the extent that local government make either possible. The digital is a ‘pharmakon’ which, in order to become therapeutic for a territory instead of toxic, requires that new knowledges and new dynamics are cultivated there. In this regard, the attraction a territory holds for investors is increasingly related to what Amartya Sen calls the capacitation of its inhabitants, their sharing of values and mutual support, all of which constitutes a reflective social milieu, which is to say a critical space, much more than a ‘smart city’.”

Capacitation, reflective collaboration and value negotiating and a critical space. We have our work cut out……


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