Urban design is increasingly widely used for city-oriented security production, and thus becomes included into the latter’s complex politics of in- and exclusion. This contribution showcases how urban design becomes deployed as a technology of security both internationally and in Switzerland, and how a reflexive security studies perspective on this use offers productive new research avenues. This is because the focus on urban design allows asking in new ways whether ‘more security is better’, how technological interventions are used and appropriated, and how they reconfigure democratic processes. Security research drawing on reflexive IR and security studies is well placed to this endeavour, as it proposes integrative and dialectical analyses of how built environments may be empowering/disempowering and inclusive/exclusive. The contribution sets out the specificities of this research ontology, presents urban design’s operation as technology of security politics, and illustrates said link in two mini-case studies centring in Bogotá and Zürich. In line with the special section to which it contributes, the article seeks to familiarize readers with architecture-oriented political analysis, and to draw out main lines of further investigation.
Hagmann, Jonas; Kostenwein, David (forth.). Urban design as technology of (counter-) democratic security politics. Swiss Political Science Review.
My UdelaR colleague Diego Sanjurjo and I are currently in the field to trace how public authorities, citizens, private companies and civil society groups contribute to urban security politics in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo. We also analyze how the country’s political heritage – a statist inclination and history of military dictatorship rule especially – conditions the politics of in- and exclusion in three different sub-city sites, Ciudad Vjeja, Tres Cruses Terminal, and Montevideo Shopping/World Trace Centre. First findings draw a fairly complex panorama in which new government programs for integrated citizen safety, generalized video surveillance, and significant expansions of the private security sector don’t succeed in curbing growths in crime and violence, heightened public sentiments of pervasive insecurity, and polarized political debates regarding the city’s future trajectories.
Montevideo is the third case study in the SNSF Ambizione research program “Securing the city: The global politics and practices of urban protection”. It connects and compares to political sociology work on the Swiss cities of Zürich, Basel and Bern, the Moroccan city of Marrakech, and the Nepali capital of Kathmandu.
For extended visual documentation of our Montevideo fieldwork see here.
From August – October 2018, I will be a visiting scholar at the Universidad de la Republica’s Department of Social Sciences. The research stay serves to connect to sociologists, criminologists and political scientists based at UdelaR – especially the research group of Professor Nico Trajtenberg – and to conduct field research on the reconfiguration of urban security management in the City of Montevideo.
ETH Zürich covers our ongoing Winter School on urban (in-)security in the Cape Town township of Khayelitsha in a social media news stream. Visit the ISTP homepage, facebook or twitter account for updates, reports and audio-visual material.
Khayelitsha – Harare and Monwabisi Park
Program visits – Ikhayalami/EmpowerShack and Social Justice Coalition
African Centre for Cities – 10th Anniversary Conference
There is much agreement that urban security dispositives acquired new qualities in recent years. But do the dominant diagnoses hold up to detailed empirical verification? This piece in International Political Sociology re-engages the pertinent security studies literature. In the age of globalisation and urbanisation, technological innovation and liberal policy ideals, how are urban security apparatuses reorganised, and in what relations do they stand to local societal and political orders? Describing the evolving security handling of three urban spaces – a site of mobility (HB Zürich), a public square (Bundesplatz Bern) and a place of mass commerce (St. Jakob Park Basel) –, the article makes the case for more nuanced engagements with urban security ensembles, their technological evolution, relations with democratic ideals, globalisation and de-territorialisation both in and beyond Western polities.
Securing public space in Switzerland – Bundesplatz Bern
Hagmann, Jonas (2017). Security in the society of control: The politics and practices of securing urban spaces. International Political Sociology 11(4): 418-448. PDF
Jennifer Duyne Barenstein and I are organizing an ISTP Spring School in Cape Town on urban security practices/instruments in low-income neighborhoods. The program covers two weeks, starting 29 January 2018, and is open to ETH Zürich PhD and MA students. It includes lectures on Southern Urbanism, socio-spatial exclusion and everyday security politics. It also entails participation in a UCT urban studies conference, training in fieldwork methodology and on-site research. Deadline for applications is 10 December.