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Cities Under Siege

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The streets of Pittsburgh during the G20 Summit of 2009 (photo by AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The new book Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism by Stephen Graham argues that:

[c]ities have become the new battleground of our increasingly urban world. From the slums of the global South to the wealthy financial centers of the West, Cities Under Siege traces how political violence now operates through the sites, spaces, infrastructures and symbols of the world’s rapidly expanding metropolitan areas.

Drawing on a wealth of original research, Stephen Graham shows how Western and Israeli militaries and security forces now perceive all urban terrain as a real or imagined conflict zone inhabited by lurking, shadow enemies, and urban inhabitants as targets that need to be continually tracked, scanned, controlled and targeted. He examines the transformation of Western militaries into high-tech urban counter-insurgency forces, the militarization and surveillance of March international borders, the labelling as “terrorist” of democratic dissent and Politics/Geography protests, and the enacting of legislation suspending “normal” civilian law. In doing so, he reveals how the New Military Urbanism now permeates the entire fabric of our urban lives, from subway and transport systems hardwired with high-tech “command and control” systems and the infection of civilian policy with all-pervasive “security” discourses; to the pervasive militarization of popular culture.

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One Comment
  1. Thursday, July 15, 2010 1:47 pm

    In “Cities Under Siege”, Graham cuts a wide swath through everything that the left knows about imperialism, racism and neoliberal capitalist development, placing the creation of a society based upon the implementation of social control measures associated with militarism and surveillance front and center. Even more, he suggests that the development and marketing of surveillance technologies are the cutting edge of capital accumulation, much as postmodernists highlighted entertainment (films, television, video games) in the recent past. I’m surprised that it has received more attention, but perhaps, that is the fault of the publisher, Verso. Verso hasn’t seemed to have put much effort into promoting it in contrast to some of its other recent releases.

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