Studying Surveillance in our Cities

Studying Surveillance in our Cities

For over 10 years, Professor Steve Graham has been studying how the line between military and civilian technologies has become increasingly blurred.

It might sound like science fiction to some, but his research shows that military-style surveillance is commonplace in our cities – and we're in danger of accepting it without question.

Small-scale drones, now a ‘must-have’ for Christmas, are raising new issues about privacy.

Professor Steve Graham
Photo of Professor Steve Graham

Cities under siege

Professor Graham, of Newcastle University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, published his book Cities Under Siege (published by Verso) in 2011.

In it he offers increasing evidence of a crossover between surveillance and control of everyday life in Western cities and technology used in war zones.

Privatisation of public spaces

Instead of legal or human rights based on universal citizenship, his research shows the emerging security politics of cities are founded on the privatisation of public spaces, combined with the profiling of individuals, places, behaviours, associations and groups in advance of any alleged misdemeanour or crime.

This in turn is creating the biggest shift in our ideas of citizenship and national boundaries since the mid-17th century.

Cities Under Siege has been translated into nine languages, including Turkish, Arabic and Mandarin. Professor Graham is also regularly invited to speak about his research and the issues it raises all over the world.

‘New military urbanism’

As well as being used as scenarios for Government’s Foresight studies, Professor Graham’s research raises awareness of the influence that ordinary people can have on the situation, such as the global wave of urban occupations protesting against extreme austerity measures implemented since the financial crisis.

The term ‘new military urbanism’ which was invented for Cities Under Siege, is now used throughout the world in discussions about security and is regularly cited within the activist and social movements.


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Contact Information

Professor Stephen Graham
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 8579