There’s no explicit connection between these three new publications bearing my name (except for the fact that they bear my name), but you can make one if you like.

The first is a Manifesto for Governing Life on Mars. This is the preliminary fruit of a six-month project funded by the Dubai Future Foundation, which ended with a workshop in December 2018. I and a couple of colleagues plan to follow up with a couple of academic publications.

Why think about this topic? Well, space exploration (and Mars settlement specifically) is in the news a lot at the moment, and large amounts of resources are being allocated towards it. The aim of this research was to draw attention to draw attention to some of the problematic political and social dimensions of settling Mars. Most current public discussion about settling Mars either proceeds in a highly technical way, or is entirely speculative/science-fictional. One initial aim here was to try to learn instead from experiments in setting up alternative communities on Earth.

The second is an article which I co-authored with Federico Caprotti (University of Exeter), and was recently published in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. We were thinking about the difficulty of understanding the way that ‘big ideas’ in urban policy-making – and the ‘smart city’ in particular – land on the ground. If you start from the perspective of the vision, from on high, only part of what actually happens on the ground is visible.  But if you start on the ground, it’s difficult to see what ties it all together.  In this paper, we suggest that the idea of a ‘cultural economy’ of smart urbanism helpfully accounts for both the shaping effects of policy discourse and its varied concrete manifestations in real urban space.

Caprotti, F. and Cowley, R. (2019). Varieties of smart urbanism in the UK: discursive logics, the state, and local urban context. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1111/tran.12284

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The third is a short chapter in a new book, Digital Objects, Digital Subjects, published by the University of Westminster Press.  It responds to a chapter in which Paul Rekret critiques the supposed ‘innocence’ of posthuman thinking. I propose that posthumanism (as a broad body of thinking) has a rather uneven appeal, and that it doesn’t exclude the possibility of other forms of thinking about ‘hybridity’ to emerge in future.

Cowley, R. (2019). Posthumanism as a Spectrum. In
Chandler, D. & Fuchs, C. (eds) Digital Objects, Digital Subjects: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Capitalism, Labour and Politics in the Age of Big Data. London: University of Westminster Press. ISBN: 978-1-912656-20-2.

digital objects digital subjects

London, 30 January 2019