Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN37_02b_P: Policing Urban Lives
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Sebastian Kurtenbach, Bielefeld University
Location: PC.6.31
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 6.

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The city as a state of exception: Drug users and urban exclusions in Athens during the current financial crisis

Maria-Christina Vogkli

London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom

The purpose of this paper is to explore the drug users’ experience of the urban space in Athens from their subjective perspective and the techniques employed in order to produce urban space in a way that facilitates their control and surveillance. The Athenian urban space is heavily affected by the consequences of the current financial and humanitarian crisis, while the precariousness and vulnerability of the users’ bodies is further increased due to a harsh austerity regime. The analytical repertoire that is deployed here derives from Agamben’s theory and the main employed methods are urban ethnography and interviews, as well as mapping techniques to understand issues of coerced immobility and relocations. Initially, I briefly discuss how the urban space of Athens is experienced on the micro-level by drug users as stigmatised urban homines sacri, namely deprived of basic human rights and the right to the city. Additionally, I contend that the urban space is produced in a way that facilitates the users’ control and surveillance through the assertion of biopower by the police and the state. Specifically, a segregated space is produced shaping this part of the city as a camp of exception, where law is suspended. There, biopower is asserted on the meso-level on the users’ bodies in the form of coerced immobility by the police increasing the precarious nature of their dwelling. the macro-level, biopower as part of state policies is exercised through coerced relocations within the camp of exception and from within to distant areas in order to discipline the bodies of the user.

Three dimensional cities: vertical security and the politics of visibility

Elaine Campbell

Newcastle University, United Kingdom

This paper draws from recent theorisations of vertical space to reimagine the politics of urban securitisation. Vernacular expressions which talk of controlling areas, managing borders, and marking ground, are commonplace within security discourses, and perpetuate two dimensional (horizontal) visualisations of city spaces. How might these visualisations change if we were to think of securitisation in vertical terms - that is, as entangled within, across and through the height and depth of space instead of, or as well as its surfaces, margins and centres? Foucault argued that `the vertical is not one of the dimensions of space, it is the dimension of power’ (2007: 170). This paper unpacks the detail of this claim through a critical reading of urban infrastructures, specifically those which support the harnessing and circulation of digital information and data. Through such technologies, practices of surveillance, containment, exclusion, monitoring and mapping work through three dimensional space, generating alternative ways of visualising the city in both its everyday and emergency modes of existence. The paper takes stock of these new visibilities and argues for a critical reckoning of the vertical politics of urban security. More ambitiously, it opens up an interdisciplinary dialogue at the intersections of sociology, human geography, criminology, security studies, and STS.

Urban as the Theatre of War: Autopsy of Cizre

Sibel Bekiroğlu

Middle East Technical University, Turkey

Today, cities in the Middle East constitute a black hole. Through the destruction of the urban fabric, they absorb people, their daily lives and their history. This study is an attempt to understand the urban with relation to destruction, war and death of city. Urban, in that sense, could be read as the theatre of war. The case of Cizre, a distinct of Şırnak Province of Turkey, after four main curfews in 2015 and 2016 will be analyzed with respect to this understanding of urban, mainly the urbicide literature. In other words, this analysis will be an attempt to perform autopsy of Cizre. It is an autopsy because such an analysis after the destruction could only be called as a search for cause, the type of death, the instrument(s) used and lastly guidance for the possible murderer. It will be an effort to examine the case of Cizre with reference to urbicide literature by using the reports, interviews and news about Cizre. In that sense, this study has three main sections. The first part will deal with how we understand the concept urban. After discussing the urbicide literature, I will conclude with the case of Cizre.

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