[URBANTH-L]CFP: Urbicide: The Killing of Cities?

Angela Jancius acjancius at ysu.edu
Mon Mar 7 15:49:34 EST 2005

From: Daniel Monk <dmonk at mail.colgate.edu>

Call for Papers

Urbicide: The Killing of Cities?
An international and interdisciplinary academic workshop, 24-25th November

Sponsored by the Politics-State-Space research group, Department of
Geography, University of Durham, U.K. and P+C: The Peace and Conflict
Studies Program, Colgate University, U.S.A

Location: GRC, West Building, Department of Geography, University of
Durham, Durham, UK.


As the world has entered a decade within which the majority of the
world's population will live in urban areas, the 'right to the city'
for the world's 3.5 billion urbanites has never been a more contested
political, social and geopolitical issue. As well as the more
familiar debates about migration, multiculturalism, and inequality,
the unprecedented scale of global urbanization is also directing
intellectual attention in the humanities and social sciences to focus
on the role of cities as dominant sites of destruction, violence,
insurgency and terrorism in the contemporary world. Three converging
areas of research can be identified here.

First, in both the Global North and Global South, researchers
analyzing cities are starting to consider deliberate attempts at the
annihilation of cities as mixed physical, social and cultural spaces.
Increasing recognition is being given to the erasure of urban places,
whether through massive capitalist speculation, the destructive
processes of planned urban restructuring (associated particularly
with the 'megaprojects' associated with neoliberal regimes of urban
development), state-backed warfare or terrorist violence.

Second, the central symbolic role of urban sites as physical targets
of terrorist, counter-terror and state terror campaigns is also
gaining increasing recognition within critical international politics
research. Such work is being motivated by the widespread realization
that 'asymmetric', insurgent, and network-based political violence
can not be understood through traditional nation-state based
paradigms. In addition, in the post Cold War, western militaries are
carefully transforming their doctrine, equipment and
techno-scientific orientation so that the control and destruction of
urban insurgencies in tightly built urban environments -- so called
Military Operations in Urban terrain (MOUT) -- becomes their de facto

Finally, the emergence of cities as targets of ethno-nationalist
violence (as in the 1990s Balkan Wars) or as targets of Orientalist
violence (as in the case of Chechnya, Iraq and the Occupied
Territories) is the subject of a growing body of work in politics,
sociology, anthropology and geography.

One central concept is emerging which offers potential to tie
together all three of these areas of work: 'urbicide'  or the
deliberate attempt to deny, or kill, the city. Whilst the term is
gaining widening coverage in all three of the above research strands,
there has, as yet, been no attempt to organize a cross-cutting and
multi-scaled workshop to bring together the diverse research
communities who are becoming increasingly interested in both the
political and policy violence targeting cities.

The Durham urbicide workshop will do just this. Using the
interdisciplinary orientation of Durham Geography's
Politics-State-Space group, the workshop will seek to specify the
potential and limits of this emerging inter-disciplinary concept,
emphasizing the similar logic that operates across the scale of
local, national and global. It will develop and publish a
ground-breaking interdisciplinary dialogue between key researchers in
geography, international politics, planning, sociology, architecture,
anthropology, history, and law, who are developing research into the
role of cities as sites of both planning-related and political
violence. And it will attempt to develop a cutting-edge research
agenda into the nature of urbicide that can be pursued further by
both the cross-disciplinary and cross-national research networks that
will be established at the workshop.

The organizers would be particularly interested in papers that
address the following:

 Neoliberal cities, urban planning, and annihilations of place
 War as urbicide in the 20th century
 Place annihilation and colonial power
 Urbicide as war on collective and architectural memory
 Popular and media cultures and representations of urban annihilation
 Urbicide, terrorism and the 'war on terror'
 Military shifts towards 'Military Operations on Urban Terrain'
 Military technoscience and the city
 The relations between urbicide and other forms of political violence
 The reconstruction and resilience of cities

Organization of the Workshop

The emphasis of the 2-day workshop will be on encouraging
inter-disciplinary interaction. To keep the event to a small size,
all the 25-30 or so participants will be required to make abstract
and paper submissions. Speakers will have 15 minutes to present their
central ideas; papers will be submitted in advance of the event and
will be posted on a web site for participants to read before the

Practical details regarding the venue, programme, costs, timetable,
accommodation and transport will be sent to everyone who has a paper
accepted to the event. The charge for the event will be nominal.
Because the budget for the event is very limited, participants will
be expected to make their own transport and accommodation
arrangements using full information provided by the organizers.

Submission of Abstracts
Please email abstracts of 200 words to all three of the 3 organizers
by 30 APRIL 2005:

David.Campbell at durham.ac.uk
s.d.n.graham at durham.a.c.uk
dmonk at mail.colgate.edu

The best papers from the event will be published in a major edited
book and, possibly, a journal special issue

Daniel Bertrand Monk
George T. and Myra W. Cooley Chair of Peace and Conflict Studies
Director, Peace and Conflict Studies Program [P-CON]
Colgate University
Hamilton, NY

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