This article explores the infrastructures of value extraction that emerge as the township of New Town Kolkata is being transformed into a “smart” city. As the processes of digitalization take shape amid uncertainties and contradictions, the city becomes a site for intensive data mining. Commercial platforms, such as Uber, use computing infrastructures to predict and orientate consumer behavior, monetize attention and emotion, discipline labor, and maximize profit. Yet if data extractivism is a prominent process of urban digitalization, it is also inextricably linked to broader dynamics of resource extraction, dispossession, and financializaton that precede and march along with the making of smart cities. The complementary concepts of urban extractivism and extractive urbanism are apt to capture, I suggest, the entanglement between digital and nondigital forms of value extraction that take place in the smart city. At the same time, the analysis of economic operations in the making of the smart city also prompts reflections on the relations between speculation and extraction.
// Ilia Antenucci (2021)
Infrastructures of Extraction in the Smart City: Zones, Finance, and Platforms in New Town Kolkata
International Journal of Communication. 15(2021): 2652–2668.