This theme brings together a wide range of innovative and interdisciplinary research concerned with the politics of risk, security and vulnerability in cities across the world.
Our starting point is to look at contemporary cities as complex spaces and systems. In cities, environmental, social, political, technological, biological and 'natural' risks are managed, distributed, and represented. This is often in biased and contested ways.
The processes sustaining cities include the:
- construction of housing
- sourcing of food, water and energy
- uneven struggles over the planning and management of resources
These processes reshape 'natural' ecologies at international scales. They cause a complex politics of risk, security and vulnerability.
In a rapidly urbanising world, many of the world's technological, biological, social and ecological threats (such as viruses, resource shortages, organised violence) operate transnationally and locally. They are also transmitted through the infrastructures and circulations sustaining urban life. These circulations blur separations of the 'local' and 'global', 'urban' and 'rural', or 'human' and 'non-human'.
Introducing research in this theme
This theme works to overcome traditional disciplinary divides between discussions of aspects of risk and security:
In achieving this, the theme is developing powerful new analyses of the importance of cities and urbanisation to our world.
Work in this theme offers timely interventions for a rapidly urbanising world by:
- drawing on the latest social and political theory
- building state-of-the-art empirical research projects
- linking directly to a wide range of international policy debates
There are many debates about the securitisation of urban life and the quest to build resilience into cities in the face of resource crises, climate change, and the threats of political violence.
Through this theme we aim to develop critical, innovative and topical books, papers and projects. These feed directly into policy-relevant debates about the challenges of forging resilient urban spaces in equitable and just ways.
Find out about our current work in this wide-ranging theme.
Security, vulnerability and resilience in Global South Cities
This is a large body of research across the cities of the Global South. It addresses the shaping of informal cities by their residents, and the vulnerabilities experienced by such residents to poverty. These include health problems, infrastructural marginalisation, as well as erasure, eviction and homelessness.
Research here is also exploring the ways in which fast-growing informal settlements, as well as refugee settlements, are often vulnerable to extreme environmental risks as well as organised, drug-related and political violence. The emphasis here is on the extraordinary resilience of many informal settlements, and their communities, in the face of extreme insecurities.
Cities and nation building
This research addresses the intersections of architecture, planning and nation building, with a particular interest in Turkey. Research here is exploring how the political and spatial aspects of nation building play out at various scales in architectural, symbolic and military ways.
Science, bio-security and cities
Research into environmental problems and controversies surrounding the regulation of animal production and processing as ‘vital systems’, ‘critical infrastructure’ or ‘metabolic infrastructure’ sustaining urbanised societies.
Cities and food security
Research connecting broader strategic concerns about urban food security to the social inequalities related to the food system.
Cities and energy security
Policy-relevant research on the intersections of energy security and urban built form in British cities.
Security and the vertical view
Work on urban theories and practices in the post-war period. It addresses issues of atmospheric security, thought of in the broadest sense. This work is linked to the history of aerial views of cities and the development of imaging technologies, the vertical bombing of urban areas, and the recent proliferation of unmanned surveillance and military drones.
The ‘new military urbanism'
This is critical research on the urbanisation of state and military security agendas. This is associated with the ‘war on terror’, the conceptualisation of ‘assymetric’ warfare and the propagation of violence against and through systems of urban infrastructure.
Related to this are projects addressing local government efforts at critical infrastructure planning and emergency preparedness planning.
Find out about what we're currently working on, and projects we've completed.
A Critical Geopolitics of RAF Recruitment
Project Leader(s): Matthew Rech - Post Doctoral Fellow
Project Dates: From September 2012 to September 2013
Architecture and roadmap to manage multiple pressures on lagoons (ARCH)
Project Leader(s): Professor Simin Davoudi
Project Leader(s): Professor Owain Jones (PI) Bath Spa University
Project Leader(s): Dr Andrew Donaldson
MyPlace: Mobility and Place for the Age-friendly City Environment
Project Leader(s): Prof. Peter Wright (PI)
Planning Research Studentship
Project Leader(s): Rose Gilroy
Project Dates: From October 2013 to September 2016
Security Impact Assessment Measure - A decision support system for security technology investments (SIAM)
Project Leader(s): Professor Stephen Graham, Associate Professor David Murakami-Wood
Project Dates: From February 2011 to January 2014
Project Leader(s): Jane Midgley
The History of the Civic Movement
Project Leader(s): Dr Lucy Hewitt
The Social, health and wellbeing benefits of allotments
Project Leader(s): Tim Townshend
Wooler as a 'Lifetime Neighbourhood' for the Glendale Area, with older people in mind
Project Leader(s): Rose Gilroy
Project Dates: From February 2013
Find out which members of staff are involved in this research theme.
Professor Roger Burrows
Professor of Cities
Telephone: +44(0)191 208 6070
Dr Andrew Donaldson
Senior Lecturer and Director of Postgraduate Research
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 5806
Professor Stephen Graham
Prof of Cities & Society
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 8579
Dr Peter Kellett
Senior Lecturer in Architecture
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6023
Dr Jane Midgley
Senior Lecturer / Degree Programme Director MSc Town Planning
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6807