My current research project examines peace beyond the dominant definition as absence of violence and peacebuilding as a state-centric project. Specifically, I investigate the phenomenon of community-led demilitarized geographic areas, popularly known as “peace zones,” to better understand the kinds of work required from civilian communities in protecting their own lives during an active armed conflict, particularly if state or non-state armed actors fail to do so. I use the term insurgent peace to refer to community-led peacemaking that are rooted upon a set of internal norms and placemaking practices, relations of interdependence with state and non-state actors, and the politics of refusal that allow community members to prevent civilian deaths during war. Further, community-led peace zones as spaces for peace, I argue, can be better understood as extrastate spaces that disrupt the spatial logics of war. At stake in this research is a re-thinking of peace beyond its popular definition of the absence of violence.
LinkNYC: Mapping the Spatialities of the “Digital Divide” and Racial Capitalism
Since 2015, the number of neighborhoods within a commercial corridor in New York City that have access to free Wi-Fi have increased significantly. The increase in the access to free public Wi-Fi is largely due to LinkNYC, a communications network across New York City’s five boroughs. Each of these Links provides free, encrypted gigabit Wi-Fi to anyone with a smartphone within 150 feet. While this innovation appears promising in closing the digital divide—over 45% of total households and composed mostly of Asian, Hispanic and Blacks are in poverty and without mobile broadband connection—we know very little of the geography of LinkNYC specifically in relation to the lack of affordable housing, gentrification and continuing legacies of redlining. This chapter examines the spatialities of LinkNYC by mapping and illustrating the socio-spatial patterns of LinkNYC communications network and what these tell us of the relationality between digital divide and racial capitalism. At stake is a better understanding of the material, spatial, social and racialized features of Smart City in particular and technocapitalism more broadly.