Cultural Geography Research Colloquium Private cities of the digital age, Isabelle Simpson (Geography, McGill University Montréal) – 09.12.2020

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Quelle: The Seasteading Institute and DeltaSync
Isabelle Simpson (Geography, McGill University Montréal)
When: Mi. 9. Dec.; 12.30-14.00
Were: Zoom (Access code to the video conference by email via

Isabelle Simpson is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography at McGill University, Canada.
Her research examines projects to develop “start-up societies,” private cities financed and governed by libertarian venture investors. This includes seasteading, a movement that advocates the construction of floating settlements in international waters to challenge the “monopoly” of the nation-state and increase “competitive governance.” Such free-market techno-utopias are often framed as a solution to contemporary urban and environmental challenges yet create invisible digital and discursive borders that exclude those individuals they claim to help. Isabelle is particularly interested in how the discourses around cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies shape the start-up societies imaginary, and what this means for the future of territoriality, sovereignty, and community. She conceptualizes start-up societies ventures as “encrypted geographies,” hybrid spaces designed to provide an “exit from politics” and to allow communities to exist primarily around a shared ideology rather than a shared geography. Her research contributes to urban, science and technology, and elite studies and critically addresses the issues of who shapes urban futures and how, and how this affects the possibility of democratic urban futures.
Isabelle has won FRQSC and SSHRC doctoral scholarships, a Wolfe Fellowship in Science and Technology Literacy, and multiple research awards. From September 2019 to March 2020, she was a visiting researcher in the Department of People and Technology at Roskilde University, Denmark. Isabelle has presented her work to academic and public audiences on three continents and was invited to be a guest speaker at the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research in Bremen, Germany, and at the Royal Military College St. Jean and the Public Policy Forum in Ottawa, Canada. Prior to pursuing graduate studies, Isabelle worked as executive assistant in the real estate and non-profit sectors.
Interested please register by email at and then get the access code to the video conference sent.


Further information on the Institute of Geography homepage.