chapter  6
30 Pages

Human security in cities: crime, violence, war and terrorism

Crime, endemic violence, war and terrorism are among the most dramatic and disturbing manifestations of vulnerability in cities. And cities are uniquely prone to these threats given their economic, political and cultural significance. Historically, many cities were designed and planned with this vulnerability in mind. From the ziggurats of Mesopotamian city-states, to medieval fortress towns in Europe, to fortified colonial outposts, the impetus for city-building has often been inspired by a dual desire to concentrate and project power, as well as to defend it against perceived external threats. But as spaces where political and economic power is concentrated, where diverse actors converge, and inequality is highly visible, threats just as often emerge from within as without. This too has not been lost on city-builders: the grand boulevards of Paris were not designed for promenading, but rather military parading, to emphasise the power of the state and ensure that military order could be maintained in the streets if insurrection should materialise.