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Switching cities off: Urban infrastructure and US air power

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Stephen Graham



In this follow-up to a piece originally published in City 8(2), Stephen Graham offers a detailed portrait of the tactics and techniques of contemporary urban warfare. As cities have become more reliant than ever on networks, and as their infrastructures have become more fragile due to the vagaries of neoliberal privatization, urban-based warfare, which targets the systems—informational, medical, agricultural, and technological—that sustain the civilian populations of cities, has had disastrous consequences. Although terrorists have chosen to target urban infrastructures in an attempt to disrupt modern urban life, Graham suggests that the greater threat to metropolitan existence comes from systematic attempts by traditional powers, such as the United States, to disrupt urban networks, thereby effectively 'switching cities off'. Policies of what Graham calls 'deliberate demodernization' have become the hallmark of US air power. Although such policies are thought to bring about asymmetrical military advantage, they also place civilian populations at risk. Such policies represent thus perpetuation of total war in a different key. Graham concludes by calling for further research into the new geopolitics of infrastructural warfare.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Graham S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: City

Year: 2005

Volume: 9

Issue: 2

Pages: 169-194

Print publication date: 01/07/2005

Date deposited: 26/03/2010

ISSN (print): 1360-4813

ISSN (electronic): 1470-3629

Publisher: Taylor and Francis


DOI: 10.1080/13604810500196956


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