Urban securitisation and the need for humanising alternatives

The provision of urban security across the global North and South has become more complex. Its impact on a wide range of daily urban processes and relations has deepened as security discourses infiltrate into the political, regulatory and social aspects of urban governance. As terrorism and the war on drugs accentuate security as prevention (Body-Gendrot 2012), technologies of control and surveillance are used in the management of space and control of everyday life (Graham 2010), particularly with regard to ‘problematic’ populations and areas. Thus pacification techniques and community-oriented policing have accompanied socioeconomic policies promoting low-wage employment, reconfigured service provision and preventive programs targeting ‘at risk’ groups. Such security initiatives have contributed to the privatisation of public space, and accentuated processes of exclusion via the ‘penalisation’ of welfare (Wacquant 2008), the criminalisation of social policy (Rodger 2008) and the materialisation of security practices in daily life.

In response to these developments in urban securitisation, innovative ideas on how to humanise the provision of security are required (Abello Colak and Pearce 2009). The humanisation of security becomes more urgent in the context of deepening inequalities and uncertainties which generate distrust of public institutions and of other citizens. In line with both the ‘urban’ and ‘justice’ themes of the conference, this session will explore alternatives to urban securitisation, in support of the articulation of urban security approaches which allow citizens to exercise their rights and participate in the construction of more liveable cities. One such focus may be conviviality, understood as ‘autonomous and creative intercourse among persons, and the intercourse of persons with their environment’ (Illich 1973, 11), suggesting the need to shape spaces of encounter, including public space but also spaces of education, employment, housing and social care. We welcome papers focusing on this and other means to foreground the agency of those at the margins of top-down security debates and strategies. Papers that explore humane alternatives, the benefits of more inclusive regulation or the tensions between securitisation and humanising alternatives across diverse urban contexts are also welcomed.

Melanie Lombard, University of Sheffield m.b.lombard@sheffield.ac.uk

Valeria Guarneros-Meza, De Montfort University valeria.guarneros@dmu.ac.uk