RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018

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8 Changing landscapes / Changing the landscapes of terror and threat: materialities, bodies, ambiances, elements (1)
Affiliation Political Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Sara Fregonese (University of Birmingham, UK)
Damien Masson (Cergy Pontoise University, France)
Suncana Laketa (University of Sts Gallen, Switzerland)
Chair(s) Suncana Laketa (University of Sts Gallen, Switzerland)
Timetable Wednesday 29 August 2018, Session 1 (09:00 - 10:40)
Room Main Building - Small Chemistry Lecture Theatre
Session abstract We are witnessing an upsurge of deadly acts of terrorism. In Western Europe, for example, the number of incidents has remained stable, but deadly attacks have increased, from 2.7% in 2012 to 7.2% in 2015 and 11.2% in 2016 (Source: Global Terrorism Database). The landscapes of terror and terror threat are complexly interwoven with those of conflict, radicalization, grievance and displacement in and from the Middle East and the so-called Islamic State. While IR and terrorism studies struggle to analyze, index and measure the increasingly elusive structures of Jihadi terrorism, and critical security scholars assess the deployment and effectiveness of counter-terrorism measures, the contemporary impact of jihadi terror and terror threat on the everyday landscapes are understudied.
The session addresses this gap, by bringing attention to new spacings of terror and terror threat that go beyond the representational, state-centred, and territorial framings of national security, risk and resilience, geopolitics and identity studies. Katz’s work on security, performativity and the everyday urban environment (Katz 2007) is updated here and the research question and analysis pushed further into the everyday visceral materialities, bodily experiences, elemental aspects and ambiances/atmospheres that compose the changing landscapes of terror and terror threat.
Conversely, terror and terror threat as research objects might provoke epistemic shifts within the paradigms underlying the ‘atmospheric turn’, notably by shifting their phenomenological focus towards a critical and (geo)political one. If so, in what ways can affective and atmospheric sensitivities be reconciled with social and cultural understandings and engagements with terror and terror threat?

We invite papers that address the above points within themes including:

- Living with to terror and terror threat
- Responding, reacting, coping, absorbing: extraordinary violence and ordinary experiences
- Governing/regulating public experiences of and responses to terror
- Studying terror within the atmospheric turn
- More-than-human landscapes of terror and terror threat
- Performances of terror/security in public space?
- Elemental geographies of terrorism and terror threat
- Atmospheric/material/elemental/bodily histories of urban terror and terror threat
- Representing, visualizing and/or mapping the everyday, embodied, elemental and ambient geographies of terror fear and threat
- Collecting, grasping, and other sensory methodologies to understand the mundane feelings/affects/intensities of terror and terror threat

Linked Sessions Changing landscapes / Changing the landscapes of terror and threat: materialities, bodies, ambiances, elements (2) Roundtable
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: ac2018@rgs.org
Prepared landscapes and neurotic city-zens
Amy Batley (University of Cambridge, UK)
City spaces are increasingly managed in preparation for a potential terror attack. Whilst research into the potential implications of antiterrorism infrastructures is ongoing, less acknowledged are the consequences of less tangible spatial imaginaries which are deployed at antiterrorism training workshops. In response to recent attacks in Western Europe, there has been a greater push to incorporate wider public participation within antiterrorism training in the UK. Through terror attack simulations, mapping and structural modifications, antiterrorism training provides detailed guidance on how to design one’s space according to the sole criterion of antiterrorism preparedness. This may provide clarity and enhance understanding about the potential terror threat, but the spatial imaginaries deployed in antiterrorism training, and the possible consequences of these imaginaries for city life, are less considered. In seeking to manage terrorism insecurities, the layperson is encouraged to make increasingly pervasive modifications to their everyday spaces and to spatially incorporate an awareness of terrorism into even their most intricate experiences of urban space. This paper questions the role of spatial imaginaries and distant sites of technocratic knowledge production for the more tangible production of everyday urban landscapes. In doing so, this paper highlights that ‘landscapes of terror’ can exist distant from targeted locations, and perhaps even without terrorism arising.
(In)visibilities and materialities of protective counter-terrorism landscapes: Security or spatialized agoraphobia?
Jon Coaffee (University of Warwick, UK)
The growing threat of urban terrorism has necessitated that the managers of urban public spaces consider installing or retrofitting protective security features in order to mitigate the impact of terror attack against ‘soft targets’ - crowded locations - that are relatively open to attack due to their easy accessibility. Whilst ongoing urban revitalisation has increasingly emphasised inclusivity, liveability and accessibility, these “quality of life” values often sit uneasily beside concerns to ‘design-out’ terrorism. Most recently, attacks in Berlin, Nice, Stockholm, London, New York and elsewhere using fast moving vehicles against crowded locations, has led to a re-evaluation of counter-terrorist protective security in cities. In a range of locations security features have been literally thrown around ‘at risk’ locations but with such an approach being seen by many as ‘disproportionate’. For some, such hyper-security risks create ‘sterile’ spaces where the public fear to tread. Moreover, there are growing concerns about the exclusionary potential of counter-terrorism features - often seen as security theatre – that can be seen to evoke feeling of either assurance, or fear, of certain locations resulting in spatialized agoraphobia. Protective security in this sense does not provide feelings of safety and security and can have the opposite effect - an architecture of paranoia. Drawing on research undertaken on the spatial imprint of counter-terrorist protective security in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Australia, this paper considers if it’s possible to put in place effective counter-terrorism measures without upending how the public use and feel about urban centres.
Memorializing terror - The “post November 13th” landscape in Paris
Florine Ballif (Université Paris Est, France)
In Paris, the events of November 13th, 2017 printed marks of terror to many places, especially the Bataclan Concert Hall and a number of bars in the 11th district. These places could be described as trausmascapes (Tumarkin 2005). Individual and collective memories of violence and terror shape the psychological, physical and social landscape. People spontaneously laid flowers, letters, postcards, candles or books in ephemeral memorials. Months after, the City waste management service cleared the sites and all written materials and drawings had been collected to be held in the municipal archives, digitalized and accessible to the public. Terror sites returned to the ordinary civic life, whereas popular reaction’s artefacts had been patrimonialized as testimony.
Families of victims and citizens groups asked the city to erect a memorial. A lengthy process is still under way. The city officials are discussing with the families represented by 2 associations, Life for Paris and 13novembre, fraternité et vérité, totaling around 1000 members. Meanwhile, a citizens’ group (generation Bataclan) raised funds and preselected 10 projects for a memorial in front of the Bataclan, cancelled due to the victims’ opposition.
This is an interesting case to study the process of memorializing and testifying the 11/13 event by victims and citizens. In this paper I want to document the conflicting process of definition of the meanings, contents and shapes of the memorial by groups pursuing different objectives. (using interviews with officials, groups and individual involved in the process as well as analysing the memorial’s projects).

Listening to terror soundscapes: on the aural memory of the Bataclan terrorist attack
Luis Velasco Pufleau (University of Fribourg, Switzerland)
Sound plays an important role in how people experience and interpret significant events or everyday life. In the aftermath of a violent and traumatic event, such as the 2015 Bataclan terrorist attack in Paris, sound played an important role in triggering emotions-associated episodic memories of the event. For the people that experienced the terrorist attack, sound has taken part in the resilience process but also reinforced the trauma. Drawing on Bataclan survivors’ sensorial experience of violence, this paper explores how sounds carried information during the attack, and structured survivors’ memories of it. It is also a reflection on how sensory methodologies can provide powerful insights on how people experience and embody terrorist violence. Survivor’s recollections of the attack are marked by the sounds they listened to, decoded, and interpreted. The stories of their lives after the attack are filled by the sounds that take them back inside the Bataclan: the continual ringing of the mobile phone heard in the pit, the sounds of bodies falling one after the other, whistling bullets, whispers filled with gentleness and compassion. The hypothesis explored by this paper argues that, for survivors, certain sounds have organised the chronological order of the event, constituting points of reference in multiple, traumatic, and sometimes contradictory accounts. Findings show how sound and audionarratives can allow survivors to construct a narrative memory of the attack, structuring into a coherent whole their partial memories associated with the trauma or the shared experience.