“from Smart Cities to Smart Villages: New Sustainable Futures for Disrupting Rural Migration in Myanmar and India”

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 14:45
Location: Hörsaal 33 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
John DALE, George Mason University, USA
Sunil ISHAIRZAY, George Mason University, USA
Smart cities represent the new engines of growth in the global development of knowledge capitalism.  Europe and the United States generally celebrate this rapidly emerging mode of urban development for its capacity to enhance more sustainable environmental practices, extend the institutional reach of democratic governance, and improve the efficiency of urban management.  Increasingly, smart city development has been encouraged by international development agencies like USAID and DFID as the paradigm of choice for addressing the social problems they anticipate in the emerging “megacities” of the world.  Large corporations are also finding profitable niches in the global business of smart city development. Qatar-based Ooredoo, for example, now controls a growing portfolio of ten Asian megacities which represent its significant investment in smart city development. Dubai-based Smart City, which focuses on developing high-tech, full service urban campus-fortresses for clustering the R&D offices of the worlds largest ICT companies, controls more than 90 percent of Smart City Malta and Smart City Kochi. One of its tenants, Google, has now also leaped into the fray of smart city development with the launch of “Sidewalk Labs.”  This paper focuses on smart city development in Myanmar (Dale and Kyle, 2015) and India and an emerging progressive counter-movement within their rural hinterlands that seeks an alternative to both smart cities and traditional village models. This movement articulates a new vision for the “smart village” that blends ICT-based knowledge production and community problem-solving to improve the sustainability of its agricultural production, rural institutions, and social mobility. It seeks specifically to institutionalize a different future for rural villages that reverses the new patterns of rural to urban migration, particularly among young adults, that smart city development has amplified in this region.