chapter  3
23 Pages

Managing urban security: City walls and policing metis

Leonardo Padura’s Cuban crime novel, Havana Red, begins with the formula’s usual scenario. An investigation is launched after a dead body is discovered.195 As I note in Chapter 1, the investigatory process in police procedurals, in both novel and film versions, delivers critical insights into urban life worlds. As the detective moves through the city in search of clues, the reader or viewer is treated to the multitude of bodies, voices and images that constitute the urban sensorium and to the interactions that articulate the city’s micropolitics: the forces shaping its sensorium, its partitions, its social issues, tensions, and factions, and the strategies that diverse social types employ to flourish or survive in the face of procedures and structures of surveillance and control. In addition to the cityscapes that detectives movements portray, the combination of forensic science and practical social knowledge (which I will hereafter refer alternatively to as social and/or urban metis), which attend murder investigations, contributes to the rendering of the police detective as a valuable aesthetico-political subject, one who is enabled by “certain forensic devices” (among other things), “to function both as text and as politics in [detective] narratives.”196