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Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Cities, Networks and Infrastructures: the urbanisation of (in)security

29th January 2015, 17:30 to 18:30, Sir James Knott Hall, Trevelyan College, Dr Martin Coward, Newcastle University

The early twenty-first century has often been described as an ‘urban age’. The incorporation of ever greater proportions of the global population into cities has been said to inflect social and political life in distinctively urban ways. At the heart of global urbanisation are the infrastructures that enable urban agglomerations to exist. The urban age is, therefore, an infrastructural age. Life in the urban age is thus inflected by infrastructure in various ways. War, terrorism and security are no exception: organised violence has increasingly targeted urban infrastructures while reciprocal attempts are made to secure transport, communications and logistics against real and imagined threats.

This has given rise to an urbanisation of (in)security: while the forces that create insecurity increasingly adapt to the urban environment, cities are increasingly securitised to guard against such threats. At the heart of this urbanisation of (in)security is infrastructure. Infrastructure is often conceived as a network linking distinct nodes in a vast interconnective web. Networks are said to be vulnerable because of the way in which their pathways and junctions can be attacked to disrupt their functioning. This has led to network oriented security measures. However, it has also led to network oriented forms of violence – such as drone warfare and terrorism targeted against transport. This lecture will examine the questions posed by organised violence and security in an urban age. The lecture will highlight the importance of the invisible infrastructures of the city and challenge the dominance of the network as a motif for thinking about the threats and vulnerabilities of the urban age.

This lecture is free to attend and open to all. 

Details about Dr Martin Coward

Directions to Trevelyan College

Map - Trevelyan College is denoted as building No: 9

Contact enquiries.ias@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.