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Panel 72. The Spatiality of Care in Resisting/Survival Cities: On The Interface of Digital and Material Space


Dr. Niloufar Vadiati, Postdoctoral Researcher, HafenCity University Hamburg, Focus: Grassroots, Digital Urbanism, Email:

Dr.Nassim Mehran, Postdoctoral Researcher, Charité-Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Focus: Care/Health, Migration, Inequalities, Email:


Throughout the last two decades, several cities in the MENA region have been fluctuating landscapes—between visible modes of resistance against autocracy, technocracy, and neoliberalism and invisible modalities of survival in everyday life under brutal oppression, socioeconomic inequality, and dehumanization. In 2012, Tahrir Square in Cairo spatially embodied the moments of revolution, securitization, collective harassment, and organized anti-harassment operations. For years, Enghelab (Revolution) Street in Tehran has been a protracted space of radical modes of resistance; in 2017, Vida Movahedi’s move of taking off and hanging her headscarf in the air while standing on a utility box was then reproduced and magnified by women and men amid the Woman-Life-Freedom movement in September 2022, turned that space into a scarf-bonfire Square. However, the violent state oppression brings the insurgents into political inaction and a silent and/ or invisible mode of action in public spaces, turning the urban space into a survival space. In these contexts of resistance and survival, different spatial and temporal modes of care have been produced by organized and/or everyday practices.

With the digital turn that is mediating almost every urban and human interaction(Graham, 2020), the spaces of care have been extended from the physical to the digital sphere. Throughout time, the data, algorithms, and platforms of digital technology have embodied different forms of violence (Elwood, 2021). For instance, state-owned smart cities and digital platforms have been instrumentalized for military surveillance. At the same time, it has opened multiple, creative, even small-scale (even temporary) spaces of care. That ranges from offering a virtual space to connect, network, and construct alternative knowledge via social media platforms to alternative urban mapping, hackerspaces, cyberfeminist spaces, and a digital solidarity economy. ‘Gershad’ has been an application that some Iranian subalterns have initiated as collective mapping to hack the control of morality police patrols and survive the daily state surveillance of women’s clothing based on forced Hijab regulation (Akbari, 2021).

Consequently, a complex dynamic in care production has been formed on the interface of digital and material space within different urban as well as across the region. The question at stake here is how to build some extent of understanding about the practice of care at the interface of code and space in the Middle East and North Africa that share similar experiences of resistance and survival.

We gently invite practitioners, activists and/or self-identified feminists, care advocates, hackers, academics, or urbanists to think with us about the spatiality and temporality of care:

  • on the interface of virtual and material space.
  • through grassroots digital technologies.
  • in the interplay between applying and refusing digital technology.
  • at the glitch moments of the digital sphere.
  • on the platform economy.
  • in the interplay between organized activism and everyday urban resistance.
  • Code and Queer space in MENA cities.
  • the intersection of spatial justice & data justice.


Care, Urban Space, Digital Sphere, Resistance, Survival


Akbari, A. (2021). The threat of automating control: Surveillance of women’s clothing in Iran. Automating Crime Prevention, Surveillance, and Military Operations, 183-199.

Elwood, S. (2021). Digital geographies, feminist relationality, Black and queer code studies: Thriving otherwise. Progress in Human Geography, 45(2), 209-228.

El-Rifae, Y. (2022). Radius: A Story of Feminist Revolution. Verso Books.

Graham, M. (2020). Regulate, replicate, and resist–the conjunctural geographies of platform urbanism. Urban geography, 41(3), 453-457.

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