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Urbanism, technologies of violence and the cosmopolitanism of the dead

The City in the Crosshairs: A Conversation with Stephen Graham (Pt. 1)

I think Bryan Finoki’s Subtopia is one of the very best urban blogs out there and I’ve always appreciated geographer Stephen Graham‘s ability to make clear that urban critique must directly include politics and economics, so I knew I was in for a treat when I sat down to read the full (and rather lengthy) text.

Particularly fascinating here, I think, are Graham’s comments about critics who tend to underestimate connections between urban morphologies and technologies of violence–and how this relates to a need to both theorise and plan beyond historical understandings of defensive or strategic urbanism by focussing on contemporary structures of capitalism and networked technologies.

Heavily implicated in these issues, of course, are US military operations, the inherent risk of dealing with ‘feral cities’ in foreign lands, and intensified post-911 global techno-surveillance assemblages. All of this is further complicated by nationalist rhetorics that advance a sense of homogeneous (‘homeland’) patriotism rather than the explicit (and actual) social and cultural heterogeneity and cosmopolitanism of cities like New York, where working to rebuild involves reinforcing two types of infrastructure: the physical one of steel and concrete, and the social one of low-wage, low-prestige and often migrant labour.

Anyway, lots of good stuff here and apparently a second part to follow.