We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Digital territories : Google maps as a political technique in the re-making of urban informality.

Luque-Ayala, Andrés and Neves Maia, Flávia (2019) 'Digital territories : Google maps as a political technique in the re-making of urban informality.', Environment and planning D : society and space., 37 (3). pp. 449-467.


This article examines the mobilisation of spatial media technologies for digitally mapping informal settlements. It argues that digital mapping operates politically through a re-configuration of circulation, power, and territorial formations. Drawing on Stuart Elden’s understanding of territory, where space is ‘rendered’ as a political category, the coming together of digital mapping and the geoweb is uncovered as a political technique re-making territory through computational logics – operating as a calculative practice that, beyond simply representing space, is productive of the political spatiality that characterises territory. The article is based on an analysis of recent attempts by ICT corporates, particularly Google, to map favelas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, critically examining the claim that digitally mapping informal settlements is a mechanism for socio-economic inclusion. Providing a counterargument to claims around the power of digital maps to incorporate favelas, provide recognition, legitimacy, visibility and citizenship, we discuss how in the interface between digital and urban worlds, territory as a political space is constructed through economic incorporation. In doing so, the article unpacks the spatial politics of digital and smart urbanisms and the emerging sovereignties of digital territories, particularly in the context of the tension between inclusion and exclusion experienced by those who live in informal settlements in cities in the global South.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:This article has been published under a CC-BY NC licence.
Date accepted:23 February 2018
Date deposited:05 March 2018
Date of first online publication:13 April 2018
Date first made open access:05 March 2018

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar