chapter  2
18 Pages

The Carceral City

The image of Los Angeles as the carceral city is probably the most deeply embedded contribution Mike Davis has made to urban theory. Here is the dystopic city, LA as prison, one big cell surrounding us all, penning us in like beef in a feedlot waiting for slaughter, and the city standing as symbol of not only its own fortress-like nature but as symbol of the fortress-like nature of the nation as well. In effect, Davis duplicates the very processes he condemns in City of Quartz: "The social perception of threat becomes a function of the security mobilization itself, not crime rates. White middle-class imagination, absent from any first-hand knowledge of inner-city conditions, magnifies the perceived threat through a demonological lens". There is a positive appraisal of the city completely missing from Davis's later work, one that may have tempered some of the more categorical statements painting the city as noir beyond noir.