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Cities as Battlespace: The new military urbanism

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Stephen Graham


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The latest in an ongoing series of papers on the links between militarism and urbanism published in City, this paper opens with an exploration of the emerging crossovers between the 'targeting' of everyday life in so-called 'smart' border and 'homeland security' programmes and related efforts to delegate the sovereign power to deploy lethal force to increasingly robotized and automated war machines. Arguing that both cases represent examples of a new military urbanism, the rest of the paper develops a thesis outlining the scope and power of contemporary interpenetrations between urbanism and militarism. The new military urbanism is defined as encompassing a complex set of rapidly evolving ideas, doctrines, practices, norms, techniques and popular cultural arenas through which the everyday spaces, sites and infrastructures of cities—along with their civilian populations—are now rendered as the main targets and threats within a limitless 'battlespace'. The new military urbanism, it is argued, rests on five related pillars; these are explored in turn. Included here are the normalization of militarized practices of tracking and targeting everyday urban circulations; the two-way movement of political, juridical and technological techniques between 'homeland' cities and cities on colonial frontiers; the rapid growth of sprawling, transnational industrial complexes fusing military and security companies with technology, surveillance and entertainment ones; the deployment of political violence against and through everyday urban infrastructure by both states and non-state fighters; and the increasingly seamless fusing of militarized veins of popular, urban and material culture. The paper finishes by discussing the new political imaginations demanded by the new military urbanism.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Graham S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: City

Year: 2009

Volume: 13

Issue: 4

Pages: 383-402

Print publication date: 01/12/2009

ISSN (print): 1360-4813

ISSN (electronic): 1470-3629

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/13604810903298425


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