DIGGEO@ESOMAS_Digital Geographies of socio-political and economic spaces

Matrice, Città, Urbanizzazione

I am committed to establishing a new research cluster at the University of Turin -ESOMAS Department on the impact of the digital on contemporary socio-political and economic spaces. This work sits in the critical geography field, critical internet and urban studies, and STS. In performing it, I adopt a deconstructive, material-semiotic, and engaged perspective to unveil the dark sides of the digital governance processes, social and environmental backlashes, and the contested relationship with technological innovation to advance grassroots and creative alternatives. Three distinct but interrelated projects fall into the DIGGEO@ESOMAS cluster, in collaboration with other departments at UniTo and partner institutions abroad.

1. Social Digital Innovation e trasformazioni urbane (2020-2022) + Digital Social Innovation in Turin (2021-2023)

Our deconstructive analysis of the semiotic-material dimensions of DSI practices is aimed at (1) developing an analytical framework to explore DSI theory and practices (in particular the different perspectives of DSI in Turin); (2) identifying the conditions that trigger or hinder the agency of digital social innovators in Turin; (3) investigate the interaction between DSI communities and urban space (social, political and cultural) and how these generate distinct spatialities; (4) analyze how the different narratives produced within the ISD are mobilized to create/support specific urban imaginaries. From a methodological point of view, the study adopts the Actor Network Theory, which implies long times of participatory observation to trace the spatial and social relationships produced by different actors through their agency. The project “Digital social innovation in Turin” builds upon previous research funded by the University of Turin (2020-2021) with the title “Social Digital Innovation and Urban Transformations”. These projects have been elaborated and are currently run by Chiara Certomà and Paolo Giaccaria.

2. Networks of Laboratories for Civic Technologies Co-production: Digital Services for the public administration of the future -NCLAB4CIT (2021-2023)

We are collaborating with the Department of Computer Science, University of Turin, in the EU-funded project “Network of Laboratories for Civic Technologies Co-Production: Digital Services for the Public Administrations of the future” (NCLAB4CIT), led by Guido Boella and managed by Cristina Viano and Alice Zanasi. The project aims at establishing a European network of Local Laboratories of Civic Technologies, where public administrations, citizens / and economic actors experiment with processes of co-production of public services enabled by digital technologies. Our digital geography team is working on: (1) Mapping available technologies, needs by citizenship, services/sectors involved, and organizations (educational, research centers, SMEs) that can provide adequate skills for the design and production of quality services – in the territorial contexts involved in the experimentation of the project; (2) Mapping existing experiences of “digitally enabled co-production of services” in other territorial contexts, at the European level; (3) Structuring a repository of digital solutions, use cases and co-production methodologies; (4) Contributing to the definition of a scalability and sustainability strategy for a European Network of Local Laboratories of Civic Technologies. The geographical team includes Fabio Iapaolo and Luis Martin Sanchez under the supervision of Chiara Certomà.

3. Sustainable Cities and Digital Participation. Analysing and modelling digital social innovation processes in the governance of urban sustainability in Turin and Brussels (2022-2025)

In collaboration with Edgeryders O.U. we are running a research project funded by the Italian Minister of Research on green and innovative projects. The project revolves around the identification, analysis and modeling of digitally enabled social innovation initiatives for tackling sustainability challenges in the city and fueling democratic participation processes. By adopting qualitative-quantitative research methods (including web-mining and mapping, Semantic Social Network Analysis, participatory observation, discourse analysis and in-deep interviews) the researcher will investigate the operational practices and the knowledge-sharing fluxes that characterize the work of the social innovators working (socio) environmental sustainability challenges in Turin and Bruxelles. Urban regeneration processes performed via ecological co-housing, green infrastructure restoration and public space commoning are potentially investigated. The project has been elaborated by Chiara Certomà, is run by Samantha Cenere and supervised by Paolo Giaccaria.

People working with us

Cristina Viano, PhD candidate on “Blockchain tools for civic initiatives in the urban space”, Computer Science Dep. – UniTo & DIST – PoliTo and UniTo

Lab’s outputs


S. Cenere (forth.) Making space for the sharing economy. Fablab Torino and the performation of democratized production. In Travlou, P. e Ciolfi, L. (eds.) Ethnographies of Collaborative Economies across Europe. Understanding Sharing and Caring. Ubiquity Press

C.Certomà  (2022) “Future scenarios of Digital Social Innovation in Urban Governance. A collective discussion on the socio-political implications in Ghent”, Cities, 122, 103542

C.Certomà, F.Corsini (2021) “Digitally-enabled Social Innovation. Mapping discourses on an emergent social technology”, Innovation. The European Journal of Social Science Research, 10.1080/13511610.2021.1937069

C.Certomà (2021) Digital Social Innovation. Spatial Imaginaries and Technological Resistances in Urban Governance, Palgrave McMillan, New York

C.Certomà (2021) “Riproduzione, Rappresentazione, Potere. Per una geografia critica dell’Innovazione Sociale Digitale”. In F. Dini, F. Martellozzo, F. Randelli, P. Romei (eds) Oltre la Globalizzazione – Feedback, Memorie Geografiche, 19, Società di Studi Geografici, Florence, 385-389

C.Certomà, P. Giaccaria, A. Romano, F. Celata (2021) “Percorsi di ricerca nelle geografie del digitale”. In F. Dini, F. Martellozzo, F. Randelli, P. Romei (eds) Oltre la Globalizzazione – Feedback, Memorie Geografiche, 19, Società di Studi Geografici, Florence, 385-389

S. Cenere (2021). Making translations, translating Making: Actor-networks, spatialities, and forms of Makers’ work in Turin. City25(3-4), 355-375

C.Certomà, A. Passani, M. Dyer (2020) “The city of digital social innovators. Editorial”, Urban Planning, 5/4, p.1-7

S. Cenere (2020) Produzione aperta e auto-organizzata. Le spazialità dei Makers. In Lazzeroni, M., Morazzoni, M. (eds). Interpretare la Quarta Rivoluzione Industriale: la geografia in dialogo con altre discipline. Roma, Carocci Editore, pp. 159-173

C.Certomà (2020) “Digital Social Innovation and Urban Space. A critical geography agenda”, Urban Planning, 5/4, 8-19

Public presentations

2021 C.Certomà’s speech at the conference “Le sfide della società delle piattaforme”, H2020 PLUS -Platform Labour in Urban Spaces project, University of Bologna (Video presentation)

2021 C.Certomà “Place-based re-politicisation of socio-digital entanglements in urban governance”, II Digital Geographies Conference – Critical perspectives on platform economy, University of Lisbon

2021 C.Certomà “Digital Social Innovation for Urban Governance in “a city of trouble-makers”. Place-based re-politicisation of the socio-digital entanglement”, 5th International Conference Urban E-Planning, University of Lisbon (online)

2021 C.Certomà “A critical geography agenda for bringing back space and spatialities in digital social innovation research”, RGS-IBG Digital Geographies Research Group’s Virtual Symposium

2021 C.Certomà “Place-based re-politicisation of socio-digital entanglements in urban governance. Insights from Ghent”, EUGEO Conference, Charles University, Prague (online)

2021 C.Certomà “Place-based re-politicisation of socio-digital entanglements in urban governance. A collectively designed critical research agenda on Digital Social Innovation”, Science, Technology and Society Conference Graz 2021, Graz University of Technology (online)

2020 F. Iapaolo “Orit Halpern – The Planetary Experiment. On Artificial Intelligence, Habitat, and the Future of Life”, FULL Spring Seminar Cycle 2020.

2020  C.Certomà “Collaborative Digital Social Innovation for Urban Governance. Improving public institutions responsiveness in time of crisis” (with A. Peralta), DigiTranScope Autumn Institute 2020, EC JRC – Centre for Advanced Studies

2019 F. Iapaolo “The Algorithmic Production of Space in the Age of Machine Learning: The Case of Self- Driving Vehicles”, Thematic session: Geographies of/with AI, Royal Geographical Society RGS-IGB Annual International Conference, London, United Kingdom

Conferences and workshps organisation

2021 M. Lazzaroni, C.Certomà, Session organization and chairing “Piattaforme digitali, cibo e città”, Conference Geografia e Cibo, Italian Geographical Society

2021 C.Certomà, Session organization and chairing “Social Innovation cha(lle)nging Digital Urban Governance”, Science, Technology and Society Conference Graz 2021, Graz University of Technology

2020 C.Certomà, A.Romano and P. Giaccaria, Session organization and chairing “Dalla Geografia Digitale alle Geografie del Digitale: dove siamo arrivati?”, X Giornata di studio in Geografia Economico-Politica, Società di Studi Geografici, University of Florence

Participation in related projects

2020-2023 P-Giaccaria, C.Certomà “The short-term city: digital platforms and spatial (in)justice”, PRIN 2017, Italian Minister of Research, lead by University of Rome La Sapienza (sub-unit of University of Turin)

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