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Durham University

School of Government & International Affairs

Events and Seminars


Interdisciplinary Workshop - Histories and Rhythms of Urban Violence: Global-local Encounters in the Nexus of Space and Time

6th December 2018, 09:00 to 7th December 2018, 17:00, University of Erfurt, Germany

Cities play a crucial role in the histories of empires and in the violent processes of state formation.
They are focal points for social, political, and cultural developments and for the contemporary
internationalization of rule. Cities have been understood as hubs of global (capital) flows and
networks, where tendencies towards acceleration and the imaginary of progress crystallize most
clearly. The spiraling of urban slums, however, also shows that today’s cities are characterized by
material deprivation and inequality, depriving millions of people of their ‘right to the city’.

The tensions and dynamics of global-local encounters are particularly pronounced in cities. Violence
has thus taken centre stage in these processes of city formation and transformation, but cannot be
understood as a purely ‘local’ phenomenon: While the ways cities change are shaped locally, they
are also entangled in social dynamics and processes with much wider scalar reach. Global-local
encounters are visible in the intertwinement of global mobilities and flows (of people, capital, ideas,
goods) and local materializations which facilitate and spatialize these flows and give them their
particular direction (infrastructures, barriers, transition or waiting zones etc.).

The forms, actors and dynamics of violent performances in cities differ from rural environments, as
indicated by practices of urban warfare, by urban upheavals or riots, by urban forms of gang violence
or vigilantism but also by violent government technologies. Everyday associations of ‘modern city’
rhythms – vibrancy, fluidity, speed, rapid transformations – are confronted with a solid built
environment, and a multiplicity of urban forms, which imply much greater heterogeneity of social,
political and even infrastructural configurations than is usually acknowledged.

The planned workshop builds on the insight that violence itself is a spatio-temporal practice that
shapes and changes urban space and time (or SpaceTime). For example, violence can produce urban
segregations or dissect city-space through the building of barriers, which then serve to direct and slow
down people’s movement. The social and political heterogeneity likely results in diverging
perceptions and imaginations of both space and time, which can lead to urban conflict. Furthermore,
violence is itself produced and shaped by particular characteristics of the urban, its spatial
configuration and rhythms, on both a physical and social level. The space and rhythms of cities,
however, also facilitate counterinsurgency measures, among them mass arrests or house to house
searches, or the use of specific technologies, i.e. water cannons, surveillance or profiling.

The workshop aims to explore the generative capacities of violence, in particularly if and how it
transforms space and time in the city. We invite papers (e.g. empirical case studies, comparative
studies, theoretical and conceptual papers) from different disciplines, with a variety of
methodological and analytical approaches to the study of spatio-temporal practices of violence in
cities. We would particularly welcome submissions on the following four themes:

1) Spatio-temporal practices of violence: We invite in-depth empirical papers on the following
questions: What are spatio-temporal effects of violence on the production and transformation of
the urban? How do specific practices of violence shape rhythms of city life? How do particular
qualities of urban space and city rhythms produce and shape violence and generate different forms
of violence?

2) Memories, narratives, symbolic and visual representation of violence: Here, we aim to
explore different representations of violence: What role do spatio-temporal practices have in
remembering (urban) violence? How are memories of violence embedded in the city’s spatial and
temporal configurations? How do visual representations of violence (media, art, monuments etc.)
affect the SpaceTime of the city? How do visual representations of violence transform and
rearrange space and time of the city (or more broadly the image of the city)? What are the
peculiarities of sacral space with regard to violence and what role do religious rhythms and cycles
or imaginations of time play with regard to urban violence?

3) Methods to study the SpaceTime of violence and its relation to the city: Social sciences and
humanities have developed a repertoire of methods and technologies to capture space and time
(mapping, mobility maps, travel diaries, GIS based methods and geoprocessing etc.). We invite
papers that explore how we can build on existing time-space “measures” to understand the
SpaceTime of violence and its relations to the city.

4) Theorizing the relation between time-space-violence and the city: We invite papers that
explore and advance existing theories of space (from Lefebvre to Massey, Latour to Postone) and
time with regard to violence in urban space. How can we understand the ruptures and destructive
features of violence and its capacities to initiate and accelerate change? What connection can we
draw between abstract (capitalist) time and the very concrete violent enactments that helped to
produce abstract time and that continue to shape its execution?

The workshop concludes with a round-table discussion that summarizes the above-mentioned
questions on urban Space-Time.

Abstract Submission: For this workshop we invite abstracts of proposed papers of up to 1.500
words. Please submit them by 1 September 2018 to

When accepted, participants are expected to submit papers of around 5000 words four weeks prior to
the workshop, on 7 November 2018. Workshop presentations should be kept short.

Organised by: Mara Albrecht (University of Erfurt, Germany), Jutta Bakonyi (Durham Global
Security Institute, UK), Alke Jenss (Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institute, Germany), Kirsti Stuvøy
(Norwegian University of Life Sciences).

Funding: There is some funding available for compensation of part of the travel and/or hotel costs
of paper providers. The exact amount available will be determined after participants are confirmed
(depending on the number of participants and where they travel from).

Contact Details

T: +44 (0) 191 334 5742

F: +44 (0) 191 334 5661