Zak Tobias

Thesis Title:

Transformation Zones: Digital Hubs, Automation and “Smart” Geographies in Jordan


My project explores how digital hubs are transforming labour and trade geographies in Jordan. The goal of this research is to better understand what is at stake with the latest phase of “digitally-led” development which is global in reach yet also highly localised. As Jordan tries to move along its development trajectory from regional “buffer to bridge” digital hubs provide a unique vantage point for exploring the making of so called “smart” geographies. On one level, digital hubs appear to graft upon and intensify existing infrastructural circuits. These enable the extension of localised virtual markets (ecosystems) that accelerate “start-up geographies”. Yet, alongside this, digital hubs also appear to effect trade and labour geographies in multiple, seemingly unrelated ways. From the way business operations are automated by “dynamic infrastructure”, to the expansion of smart urbanisms which produce newly amalgamated spaces of transit, trade and leisure. In order to capture and comprehend these developments, I frame digital transformation as a set of business-oriented practices and recurrent interventions which plan and advocate for the extension of digital networks. Using this framing, I set out to build a body of evidence that unpacks the broader socioeconomic ramifications of such practices and interventions.

Social media:


Twitter- @zak_tobias

First Supervisor:

Laleh Khalili




Pathway 13: PPPG