Cities as Strategic Sites: Militarisation, Anti-Globalism, and Warfare
Organised by Stephen Graham and Simon Marvin
Manchester, UK, 7-9th November 2002
(Apologies for cross-posting)
(Please note this outline was prepared before the appalling events in New York and Washington on September 11th 2001. We decided to proceed with the event because as we felt that there was an urgent need to critically and reflectively assess the changing role of cities in the context of growing tension and potential military conflict. While we do want to re-orientate the whole seminar around the recent events in the US we would welcome proposals that address the wider urban issues raised by the attacks.)
Rationale for the Conference
The twenty first century will be an urban century. Increasingly, the great contests of globalisation, cultural diversification, economic re-regulation and liberalisation, militarisation, informatisation and ecological change are boiling down to conflicts in the key strategic sites of our age: contemporary cities.
In such a context, this seminar is designed to explore the contested role of contemporary cities as strategic sites of civil, military, economic and political importance. Bringing together up to 25 researchers representing a range of disciplines, including geography, planning, sociology, political economy, politics, geopolitics, surveillance and defence studies, the seminar will examine the tensions between attempts by corporate, governmental and security forces to impose ‘order’ and control over strategic urban sites and the contesting challenges of a wide range of social movements to subvert such strategies and (re) appropriate their meanings.
The seminar will, therefore, be structured around three key themes:
Theme 1. The Militarisation of Urban Civil Societies
The first theme focuses upon the shift towards the "militarisation" of urban civil societies. This includes: the application of military-standard surveillance technologies such as CCTV, vehicle recognition systems; biometrics, the technological and physical fortification of public space, buildings, enclaves and networks; and the militarisation of police forces through application of military techniques and technologies.
Theme 2. Anti-Globalisation and Urban Conflict
The second theme focuses upon the city as the contested terrain of globalisation. Particular emphasis will be placed on understanding recent protests against the G8 World Economic Summits in major cities, and the responses of security forces. This will include the most recent incident in Genoa, but also looking back at the Seattle, Prague, Washington, and London demonstrations. The theme will explore the role of urban protests, its relationships with the parallel world of hacking and network sabotage, and the attempts of the proposed transnational police forces to enforce security at future summits.
Theme 3. The Urbanisation of Warfare
The final theme focuses upon the intensifying military interest in the role of cities as key sites in which future military and geo-political conflicts are expected to be fought. Cold War military doctrine stressed the imperative of by-passing cities, based on the nightmarish spectre of Stalingrad-like house-to-house struggles. But recent assessments of post-cold war conflicts in Chechnya, the Balkans, and elsewhere highlight the urbanisation of warfare in a context of intensifying global urbanisation, the growth of urban terrorism, the implosion of nation states, and the efforts of US and its Allies to maintain and strengthen global political, economic and military hegemony. US and Nato forces have thus taken renewed interest in Military Operation in Urban Terrain (MOUT) with significant investment in urban warfare technologies, simulations and military exercises in existing cities. Major cross-overs are occurring here with the diffusion of such tactics into civil state and governance efforts at urban social control (Theme 1) and state efforts to protect strategic urban sites during major international economic conferences (Theme 3).
Expressions of Interest
The organisers are looking for one page expression of interest oriented around one or more of the themes identified above by March 31st 2002. Full papers are due by end October 2002. The conference will take place in November 2002. The conference will take place in Manchester, U.K. Costs of participation are to be decided but will eb kept as low as possible. The papers will be published in the form of a major Edited book.
Please e-mail a 150-word abstract and all contact details to both Simon Marvin (S.Marvin@salford.ac.uk) and Stephen Graham (firstname.lastname@example.org) by January 31st 2002.
Professor of Urban Technology
School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape
3rd Floor, Claremont Tower
University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, U.K.
Telephone +44(0) 191 222 6808
Fax +44(0) 191 222 8811
http://www.ncl.ac.uk/cut/ Email: e-mail email@example.com Visit the website at http://www.ncl.ac.uk/cut/
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