Add to Technorati Favorites

Weekly Index
Research Sites

  • Features
  • Categories
  • Resources
  • About


Last 100 Entries
« Modernity and Metaphysical Upheavals | Main | Reply to Innes: Methodological Impasse? »

Forensic Footprints of Urbicide

Bryan, I have to say that I couldn’t agree more. Your argument for a forensics of the ruin sums up pretty much how I feel we should proceed with the empirical analysis of urbicide. If my book is a theoretical argument for the necessity of taking the idea of urbicide seriously (and understanding its conceptual contours) then your suggestion is the necessary empirical corollary.

Can I also say that I think your tracing of the footprint of destruction provides a neat way to cut the Gordian knot of intent that has ensnared us recently. I would endorse the idea that certain footprints, patterns or traces could be interpreted as evidence of purposeful activity. We might thus look at a footprint that features widespread destruction of the urban fabric and say ‘this can’t be an accident, this can’t be militarily necessary, and it isn’t only aimed at cultural heritage, it must thus comprise deliberate destruction of buildings in order to destroy urbanity’. In so doing we are using the “terrestrial entrails” [what a brilliant phrase] to infer purposeful, deliberate action (without, please note, having to ask our informants to comment on their mental states). We may have found a way, therefore, to disinter intent.

I also think you point to several very important issues for those thinking about urbicide as a crime against the built environment. On the one hand, urban planning has its own violent footprint. But we cannot confuse ceaseless renewal (with attendant exclusion) and annihilatory logics. If we were to do so we would end up in the conservative trap of banning all development.

I think here we would look at the ways in which urban planning was directed towards forms of social improvement, to (inadvertent) ghettoisation of certain sections of society and so on. Here I think Foucault’s discussion of the relation of the city to biopolitics is interesting as it indicates that the urban form might play a role in constituting productive, and thus also surplus, life. Where an urban form shows evidence of zoning out surplus life we may ask about the violence this constitutes.

Similarly, I agree that precision weaponry has led to another footprint of urban destruction. I would want to say that this is not urbicide since it does not seek to destroy all buildings qua the fabric of urbanity. But, nonetheless it is an attack on a material object that seeks to alter the way in which that object is publicly available.

But now I am meandering a little. You have, however, put your finger on the issue. What we would need to capitalise on the analysis of my book (indeed to operationalise what is otherwise a quite abstract discussion) is a forensics of urban destruction. Only then could we begin to deal with the crime that urbicide constitutes.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>