San Francisco Through Bogotá’s Eyes: Leveraging Urban Policy Change Through the Circulation of Media Objects


This article connects two emerging debates in urban studies—the need to pay more attention to the role of nonhuman actors in urban planning and the ways in which media objects affect urban politics and planning—by examining how a video on Bogotá’s car‐free Ciclovía program facilitated the adoption and implementation of a similar program in San Francisco. The analysis shows that media objects have the capacity to act as fulcrums in processes of leveraging urban policy change owing to their potential to alter urban governance structures. The article analyzes the digital storytelling and ‘eye‐opening’ practices through which the video enabled policy changes to be implemented in San Francisco, while also tracing the local and transnational actors, networks and agendas that were involved in the production and circulation of the video through digital archival research and multi‐sited fieldwork. In doing so, it shows the active role that media objects play in shaping urban policymaking processes and provides an example of a relational methodology for studying the digital materialities through which urban policy ideas increasingly circulate.