Cities, War, and Terrorism: Towards an Urban Geopolitics (Studies in Urban and Social Change)

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He distinguished himself from the previous government by focusing less on the discourse of the drug war and more on social reform — a strategy that has not been very successful. The latter incident drew international attention to the state of Guerrero and its increasing levels of urban violence. In this context, militarisation is not only related to the use of force, but also to a particular mindset, distinguishable within public security policies as well as among civil society — as demonstrated by the diffusion of restrained urban areas, walls and electronic monitoring, and the widespread use of private security companies for personal and property protection.

The increasing conflation of public safety, national security and international security is one of the most intensively discussed issues in contemporary IR literature Gros ; Kaldor ; Bigo ; Feldman ; Rodrigues forthcoming. The identification, by politicians and others, of transnational non-state actors, such as terrorist organisations and DTOs, as major threats to security reinforces the articulation between internal and external security practices, which further blurs the separation of the national and the international, the police and the military.

According to Foucault , the contemporary notion of police as a repressive law enforcement state agency emerged in the late 18th century, after the liberal criticism of its centralised economic control by the state. Neocleous underscores the abstraction of social contract theory, unveiling the production of legitimacy through a violent history of state formation marked by military victories of certain groups over others.

Politics and the state, then, would be pervaded by conflict, since governmental practices comprise complex tactics seeking the production of certain social behaviours, mindsets, discipline, and order. In this sense, the political is not synonymous with peace but with pacification i. Bearing in mind that the Homicide Monitor data on Mexico is biased by the interests of agents directly involved in the decision to militarise the campaign against drug trafficking in urban areas, it is not hard to infer why it opts to report records of judicial inquiries, which tends to underplay the number of homicides, since there are cases in which one inquiry accounts for several homicides — a particular flaw in the case of the post-militarisation AMZ — instead of establishing how many homicides occurred in the course of a given incident or investigation.

Since the militarisation of the fight against drug trafficking in Acapulco in October , the Homicide Monitor has provided the following data:. The difference between the average homicide rate is relatively slight when compared to the differences between the medians. This is alarming, as it shows that the samples differ significantly in terms of the concentration of homicide rates per year.

In both samples, homicide rates decrease from until , yet the level of decrease is strikingly different. It is possible to infer that public agencies which are subject to electoral processes and are responsible for negotiating with foreign role players about issues surrounding drug trafficking in Mexico are more prone to maximising the positive impacts of militarisation on homicide rates in urban areas than public agents who are regionally bound, avoiding at least some of the local pressures to portray data in certain ways, besides being disconnected from the decision-making process of militarisation.

Furthermore, while the internal variations in homicide rates in and are relatively similar, there are significant differences in the rates of decrease in Since the Homicide Monitor sample focuses on opened investigations, it is possible to infer that, following the early years of militarisation, when homicide rates increased with the entrance of yet another armed actor in the urban violence surrounding drug trafficking in Acapulco, this became normalised under the paradigm of a new urban militarism Graham In the case of the Homicide Monitor sample, this normalisation follows a significant drop in homicide rates.

Given that the CCSPJP rates are significantly higher, this points to a concentration of violent incidents, which in both cases, albeit to different degrees, can be deemed a result of normalisation. Figures 1 and 2 corroborate this, as they depict a decrease in violent incidents throughout the AMZ as well as a concentration of these incidents in areas of metropolitan involution.

Cities, War, and Terrorism: Towards an Urban Geopolitics

When this propaganda emphasises the reduction of violence through the legitimate use of force, it tends to disguise what Neocleous and Rodrigues forthcoming characterise as a desire for social revenge, especially in a situation in which the inherent tendency of the social contract to legitimise the violent process of silencing and targeting certain groups of people is increasingly revealed.

Also, when this data glorifies the tactics of discipline and control that further diffuse the existence of constricted areas within metropolitan zones, it lends credibility as well as efficiency to the normalisation of segregation through other technological means, such as walls, electronic monitoring, and private security companies.

Since processes of otherness are deeply entrenched in perceptions of the other, the data adds to a set of beliefs that tends to vary according to the identity of the individual or group. In a city, these individuals and groups are generally bound to certain territories, demarcated by spatial divisions that are enforced and reinforced by all the parties involved in drug trafficking conflicts.

Even though, in the 21st century, social media can help to overcome social segregation, practices of militarisation still rely on physical borders to highlight otherness, as restrained urban areas, both for their potential threat and for their potential as targets, not rarely portray walls — some made of barricades; others, of glass and surveillance — marking down differences and limitations, friendship and animosity, inside and outside.

Maps provide a helpful visual representation of the territorial dynamics of a given phenomenon. In this instance, Figures 1 and 2 are particularly relevant as territoriality is intrinsic to geography, economics, and geopolitics.

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The hotels and other properties of s and s fame are on the right side of the bay, where tourist activity and wealthy residential areas are still concentrated. The pins are concentrated in the areas of metropolitan involution, and helped to make Acapulco the second most violent city in the world in that year.

Cities as strategic sites: Place annihilation and urban geopolitics

Implemented from October onwards by federal police and Mexican military forces in the AMZ, Operation Guerrero Seguro brought back the counter-narco-dollars to the state. As Figure 2 shows, the federal police and military forces successfully reduced the size of the area of involution in which these crimes against life were concentrated. However, the number of casualties only stabilised in relation to the peak months preceding the operation. Therefore, it could be argued that although DTOs, the police, and the military did not confront each other over as large an area, or as frequently, the level of violence and perhaps of weapons sophistication and mortality , tended to increase.

The intangible geographic, political and economic boundaries between these areas and those of metropolitan involution explain why the spread of crime into these elite neighbourhoods are crimes against property rather than crimes against life. These dynamics represent an institutionalised, visible boundary separating the subject from the object, reifying the inhabitants and territories of involuted metropolitan regions whose lives then do not matter, at least not as much as those of the elites and their possessions.

Due to these policies, violence increased in urban centres that were previously secondary to the political economy and the geopolitics of drug trafficking. Moreover, the process of otherness that had developed visible and intangible social boundaries within these areas guaranteed fertile grounds for DTOs, as well as for the militarisation of the campaign against them. There are two possible explanations for the high levels of violence following the deployment of the federal police and military forces.

One is that both forces tend to elevate the deadly range of weaponry used by all sides of the conflict. Another is that these forces simply act as peacekeepers, with a mandate to combat people on all sides of the dispute, which leads to increases in homicides. In line with this, the influence of DTOs from other Mexican states in Acapulco also increased, adding more complexity and violence to the regional dynamics. The deployment of the federal police and military forces did not avert the proliferation of struggles among DTOs, or reverse the problem of high homicide rates by containing the violence in certain geographic areas.

The federal police and armed forces simply began to play a symbolic role in the social imaginary, addressing the fears harboured by one group about another. The potential violence of the process of otherness is aggravated in Acapulco by its place in the political economy and geopolitics of drug trafficking in the Americas, cycles and fluxes that add up to the animosity of the otherness constructed geographically, economically, and politically in the AMZ. When, in October , urban militarisation was added to these variables, Acapulco entered the ranks of the 50 most violent cities in the world.

Debates about the methods used to compile data about homicides in Acapulco in particular and Mexico in general have led to findings about the political attitudes inherent to portraying the data of various institutions. It has also allowed us to trace certain spatial trends that feed into the production of new boundaries in the city. The real estate market, for example, has benefited from the territorial concentration of violent incidents following the militarisation of the war on drugs in Acapulco, since it has profited from the gentrification of formerly violent regions Paley Among others pointed out in this study, this trend provides a clue for researches who seek to trace the effects of the militarisation of the campaign against drug trafficking in urban spaces.

Measurement and Analysis of Crime and Justice. Ashworth, Gregory J. War and the City. Astorga, Luis. Drogas sin Fronteras. Mexico: Del Bolsillo. Bagley, Bruce.

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Bigo, Didier. Security: a new framework for analysis. Carpenter, Ted Galen. Washington, D. Corva, Dominic. Deleuze, Gilles. October, Mexico: Grijalbo. Feldman, Allen. Freeman, Laurie and Jorge Luis Sierra Buenos Aires: Biblos, pp. Foucault, Michel.

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Discipline and Punish: the Birth of Prison. Alan Sheridan. New York: Vintage Books. Security, Territory, Population. Editor Michel Senellart; Transl. Graham Burchell. New York: Picador. Gallegos, Zorayda, Giddens, Anthony. Nation-state and Violence Vol. Goldstone, Jack A. Journal of International Affairs, 56 1 : Graham, Stephen. Malden: Blackwell Publishing, pp. Cities under Siege: the new military urbanism. Grillo, Ioan. New York: Bloomsbury Press. States of Violence: an essay on the end of war. Mexico: Temas de Hoy.

Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis through San Diego: University of San Diego. Jones, Nathan P. Washington D. Kaldor, Mary. Cambridge: Polity Press. Keegan, John. A History of Warfare. New York: Alfred A. Krauthausen, Ciro and Luis Sarmiento.

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Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books. Mathieu, Hans and Saruy Tolosa eds. War Power, Police Power. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Paley, Dawn. Drug War Capitalism. Mexico: Grijabo-Proceso. Plane, David A. Population, Space and Place, 10 4 : — Request this item to view in the Library's reading rooms using your library card.

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