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Space and Culture: Spaces of Terror and Risk

The interlinked discourses of terrorism and risk serve both to structure policies and drive the design of technologies, with implications ranging far beyond traditional issues of national security and international relations. Both the threat of terrorism, and the policies and technologies intended to counter it, impact upon the built and urban environment, potentially changing the nature of the space itself, as well as the way people use, inhabit and think about places and spaces. This special issue intends to map these developments and provide theoretical accounts of such trends and phenomena.

Terrorism acts as driver for diverse policies of pre-emption, prevention and prediction, including the substantial growth of surveillance. Frequently, terrorism is framed in terms of risk, with certain places, populations and activities identified as risky or suspect, and thus a proper target for monitoring and intervention. The logic of counter-terrorism is risk averse. Attempts to secure space against terrorism or other associated risks and natural hazards raise questions about what exactly is being secured and for what purposes. Which populations or activities are included or excluded from a space? What uses of space are privileged, and which are brought under the rubric of terrorism? The threat of terrorism, as well as counter-terrorism responses, impact the aesthetic and affective dimensions of architectural and urban design, and could delimit movement and experience within the space of the city. These threats and counter-measures also have profound implications for urban ethical and political life. To what extent does the risk of terrorism foster a politics of secrecy as opposed to openness? Do these conditions prevent the development of a potential ethics of hospitality or cosmopolitanism?

The spaces affected by terrorism and risk are not just physical, but also include virtual spaces such as the internet. These spaces too are designed and constructed in ways that are affected by conceptions of risk and terrorism – the decentralised communications potential of the internet is seen by governments not only as a site of radicalisation, but also of ideological conflict. Physical spaces are themselves divided up into zones of control, ranging from physical and electronic security cordons to ‘free speech zones’ and the fortified ‘Green Zone’ of Baghdad.

We seek papers (up to 8,000 words combining theory and empirical research, although shorter case studies may also be accepted) from various disciplines and theoretical standpoints that explore the following areas:

  • Surveillance, monitoring and visualisation
  • Technologies of control, terrorism prevention or risk management
  • Borders, marginal and liminal spaces
  • Urbanism and Terrorism: cities, people and infrastructure
  • Methods of risk or hazard assessment, and risk based decision making
  • Strategies of the securitisation of space
  • Policy issues and unorthodox readings of security
  • Information technology, risk and terrorism.
  • Historical examples of the effects of risk and terrorism logics upon spaces and places.
  • Case studies or comparative accounts
  • Architectural and urban design practices
  • Political and ethical considerations of terrorism and counter-terrorism

These topics are offered as suggestions, and we are also open to other subjects not outlined above that speak to space, terrorism and risk as a special theme of scholarship. Deadline for Submission is 4th December 2009.

Guest Editors:

David Wills – University of Birmingham – d.a.wills@bham.ac.uk

Cerwyn Moore – University of Birmingham – c.moore.1@bham.ac.uk

Joel McKim – Concordia University – jmckim@alcor.concordia.ca

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