As the COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly changing buying habits and ›dark retail‹ is spreading in the post-pandemic city, Amazon as the world’s largest online retailer is already at the forefront of a logistics revolution in retail transforming urban spaces. While its patents point to a speculation on automated futures, its retail and logistics operations – from fulfilment centres to last-mile delivery – are already creating spaces and architectures open to automated logistical flows. The premise of the project is that Amazon’s impact on the city is to be found focusing on the way its fulfilment centres are situated on post-industrial sites in urban fringes, its last-mile delivery serves are shaping the city, and its infrastructural backbone is distributed across the globe. Oriented around these conditions, the project proposes the first systematic study of the impact of Amazon’s logistical operations on the city. Specifically, three substudies focus on the way a) Amazon’s urbanism is currently transforming the properties and relations of urban space; b) Amazon’s algorithmic management is coordinating data, people and things; and c) Amazon’s patents speculate on automated futures of logistical cities. The project contributes significantly to a digital sociology of automation in the logistical city, generating analytical mappings and visualizations of research results for a broader political debate around Amazon urbanism.

Investigating Amazon as key actor in the automation of logistical cities, the project is guided by three objectives:

  1. to map the current impact of Amazon’s logistical operations on urban spatial configurations and topologies;
  2. to trace the algorithmic coordination of data, people and things in Amazon’s logistical operations; and
  3. to analyze Amazon’s speculations on the futures of automated logistical cities.

Prof. Dr. Armin Beverungen

Armin Beverungen is Junior Professor for Organisation in Digital Cultures. Previously, he has held research and teaching positions at the University of the West of England, Leuphana University and the University of Siegen. He is also a visiting lecturer in the technologies section of the contextual studies program at the University of St. Gallen. He is an organization scholar and sociologist by training, and received his PhD for a history of critical management studies from the University of Leicester. His research interests have included the financialization of the university, corporate governance and business ethics, the politics of labour, and open access publishing. At Leuphana, he has been involved over most of the last nearly ten years in establishing the Centre for Digital Cultures. In this context, his research has increasingly engaged with media studies and science and technology studies.


M.Sc. Maja-Lee Voigt

© Hanna Hartmann

Maja-Lee Voigt is an urban designer, research associate at the project “Automating the Logistical City” since 2021, and co-founder of the interdisciplinary city research collective Akteurinnen für urbanen Ungehorsam in Hamburg. Assisted by a methodological toolbox of ethnographic and critical feminist thinking, her work focuses on everyday practices of resistance through and embodiment of invisible digital infrastructures and urban gig work. After deep diving into the realms of (cyber-)feminist hackspaces she is presently thinking through the automation of logistical cities, tackling questions about algorithmic architectures of oppression, cities in crisis, and hacking spaces towards more just urban futures.

maja-lee.voigt@leuphana.de // akteurinnen.de

© Hanna Hartmann

Dr. Ilia Antenucci

Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Institute for Sociology and Cultural Organizations (ISKO) and at the Center for Digital Cultures (CDC), Leuphana University of Lüneburg.

Since September 2021, I am part of the “Automating the Logistical City: Space, Algorithms, Speculation” project, led by Prof. Dr. Armin Beverungen.

In 2020, I was awarded a six month fellowship from the Center for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS) of Bochum, during which I worked on urban testbeds for 5G and IoT technologies.

For my PhD project, based at the Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University, and completed in 2020, I investigated the processes of urban digitalisation in New Town Kolkata and Cape Town. I have a MA in political philosophy from the University of Bologna, Italy.