Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

The urban 'battlespace'

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Stephen Graham



Sustaining the military targeting of the everyday sites and spaces of urban life in the contemporary period is a new constellation of military doctrine and theory. In this the spectre of state-vs-statemilitary conflict is seen to be in radical retreat. Instead, the new doctrine is centred around the idea that a wide spectrum of global insurgencies and ambient threats now operates across the social, technical, political, cultural and financial networks which straddle transnational scales while simultaneously penetrating the everyday spaces, sites and circulations of global cities. Such lurking threats are deemed by the latest theorist of ‘asymmetric’ or ‘irregular’ warfare to camouflage themselves within the ‘clutter’ of cities at home and abroad for concealment against traditional forms of military targeting. Addressing the Mumbai attacks through the lens of this emergingconstellation of military and security doctrine, this article highlights three important implications of viewing the everyday sites, spaces and circulations of cities as the key strategic ‘battlespaces’ of our era. These involve, first, the way contemporary doctrine views urban terrorist attacks as part of a broad terrain of trans- national organized ‘information operations’. Second, such paradigms prefigure a radical blurring between local and global scales, the ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ of nation-states, and between policing, military power and state intelligence. And, finally, emerging urban security propagates hyper-militarized perspectives in which every aspect of urban life is transposed as an act of limitless and boundless warfare.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Graham S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Theory, Culture and Society

Year: 2009

Volume: 26

Issue: 7-8

Pages: 278-288

Print publication date: 01/12/2009

Date deposited: 17/03/2010

ISSN (print): 0263-2764

ISSN (electronic): 1460-3616

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/0263276409349280


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric