RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2012

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88 Everyday geographies of the punitive State (2): Securitization
Affiliation Political Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Dominique Moran (University of Birmingham, UK)
Jon Coaffee (University of Birmingham, UK)
Chair(s) Jon Coaffee (University of Birmingham, UK)
Timetable Tuesday 03 July 2012, Session 5 (17:20 - 19:00)
Room David Hume Tower - Room 6.11
Session abstract This session opens a space for the discussion of the growing interest in geographies of incarceration and insecurity, broadly defined. The so-called ‘punitive turn’ has brought about new ways of thinking about geography and the state, and has highlighted spaces of incarceration and insecurity as new terrains for exploration by geographers.

Papers in this session consider ‘carceral geographies’ as a geographical perspective on incarceration, tracking the ideas, practices and engagements that have shaped the development of this new and vibrant sub-discipline. Equally papers consider how traditional conceptions of conflict and insecurity have been refined in an increasingly complex, interdependent and potentially threatening security environment leading to new modes of materiality and governmentality.

In both cases we are interested in the techniques and tactics deployed at a number of spatial scales – from control of national borders to everyday experiences of urban spaces and prison environments - which can be seen to advance an increasingly punitive approach to the functioning of the State. The session is intended to convey a sense of the debates, directions, and threads within the fields of carceral and security geographies, their synergies with criminology, sociology and political science, and their likely future trajectories.
Linked Sessions Everyday geographies of the punitive State (1): Carceral Geography
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2012@rgs.org
Unpacking the carceral city: enhancing the resilience and securitisation of public places
Jon Coaffee (University of Birmingham, UK)
In the last twenty years a vast academic literature has developed around the concept of ‘militarising’ or ‘securitising’ cities and in particular the policy responses to the occurrence of crime, fear of crime and the evaluation of cities as strategic sites for a spectrum of large-scale increasingly destructive ‘perturbations’ in everyday urban life such as riots, protest and acts of terrorism. Many traditional policy interventions in response to such threats have embodied characteristics of the ‘carceral archipelago’ where incarceration techniques and strategies are increasingly and punitively deployed within public places of the city and embedded within the design of security obsessed urbanism. Here previous techniques focused on ‘designing out’ threats have commonly led to the use of ever-advancing surveillance technologies and the construction of fixed territorial borders, security cordons and ‘rings of steel’. Such attempts at creating increasingly resilient cities through physical change have often been supported by an array of legislative powers and regulatory guidance which targets the control of particular activities deemed unacceptable or inappropriate. Within this context, this paper argues that new security challenges facing many western cities in the post-September 11th era has had dramatic effects on the way in which policy makers and now conceptualise and enact urban security and resilience. Drawing from a range of UK Government and EU research projects focused upon redesigning cities for new security challenges, this paper sets out a framework for analysing threat-induced responses to urban insecurity and reflects upon guidance being produced to makes such interventions both effective and acceptable to a range of civic stakeholders.

The Empire and its Hotel: The Changing Biopolitics of Hotel Lloyd, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Chin-Ee Ong (Wageningen University, The Netherlands)
Claudio Minca (Wageningen University, The Netherlands)
James Sidaway (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Building upon emerging work on the geographies of incarceration and insecurity and existing corpus of literature on governmentality and biopolitics, this paper considers Hotel Lloyd in the Eastern Docklands of Amsterdam as a focal point of changing governmentality and shifting biopolitics of The Netherlands. Tracing the early days of the hotel’s beginnings as a node for housing immigrants connected to the Dutch Empire’s far-reaching colonial networks, to its second world war function as Jewish shelter, to its ‘carceral’ phase as an adult prison and a juvenile detention centre for the modern/punitive Dutch state to its contemporary use as a hotel and cultural embassy for a mobile travelling society, we examine and interrogate the discursive and spatial techniques and tactics aimed at shaping docile subjects and bodies in the secured spaces of this building complex at the heart of the Netherland’s former colonial and current tourism networks. Specifically, we interrogate the discursive and spatial practices for producing disciplined subjects and bodies in the seafaring crew from the colonies, Jewish settlers and refugees, prisoners and juvenile detainees and, in a ‘punitive turn’ not unlike subjects the complex and site had seen earlier, the disciplining of contemporary tourists and modern-day tourism workers. In doing so, we seek to contribute to an understanding of the everyday geographies of the punitive state and ‘Empire’ and the biopolitical - as situated at the crossroads of colonialism, ethnicity and tourism.

“Urban Violence,” Everyday Life and the Shifting Presence of the Penal State
Joaquín Villanueva (Syracuse University, USA)
This paper explores the increasing presence of the state in the spaces of everydayness as a tactic of crime control. In particular, the paper narrates the development of the “prevention of delinquency” in France in order to illustrate how the “everyday” has become an important space of state intervention. The “prevention of delinquency” is a strategy launched by the French state in the 1980s to fight crime and the “feelings of insecurity” in the banlieue. Originally, this strategy sought to control crime through socio-preventative measures, yet recurrent revolts in the 1990s enabled the government to implement a more repressive/penal approach that has characterized the politics of the banlieue ever since.

Further, I argue that crime-control practices since the 1990s have targeted the “everyday” in order to fight small and medium size delinquency, on the one hand, and “urban violence,” on the other. This latter term came into usage during the 1990s to denote a series of non-punishable disorderly conducts as well as criminal, and at times violent, actions committed by young people from social housing estates in the banlieue. By conflating all sorts of transgressions under the term “urban violence” a direct connection was established between the presence of “ordinary” offenses and the episodic eruption of “riots.” To prevent “urban violence,” it was imperative to attack the spaces of everyday life. Consequently, state intervention in the “everyday” has entailed the criminalization of everyday socio-spatial relationships and the de-politicization of everyday socio-spatial practices. Drawing on Henri Lefebvre’s theoretical underpinnings on “everyday life,” the paper intends to call attention to the everyday as both a “space of state intervention,” and as a “space of endless political possibilities.” In that sense, the paper contributes to understandings of the “everyday geographies of the (French) punitive State.”
Securing public space from the ‘threat’ of young people: Controlling everyday behaviour in the UK
Craig Johnstone (University of Brighton, UK)
Examining the regulation of homelessness in 1990s North America, Don Mitchell (1997) argued that legislation introduced at state and city level had precipitated the ‘annihilation of space by law’, as increasingly narrow definitions of publicly-acceptable behaviour, backed up by punitive enforcement, drove the homeless from high value urban spaces. Taking Mitchell’s argument as its point of departure, but focusing particularly on experiences in the UK, this paper draws on evidence from geography, criminology and urban studies to consider how the tightening of regulation over behaviour in public space and restrictions on access to these spaces is no longer experienced exclusively by those groups, like the homeless, oftentimes viewed as ‘out of place’ in the city centre. In particular, the paper considers the situation faced by young people as they seek to navigate and utilise the putatively public realm. In the last decade or so, legislative innovations, heightened surveillance, more visible policing and other measures adopted in the name of ‘security’, often fuelled by the ‘discovery’ of anti-social behaviour (Squires 2006), have progressively restricted young people’s access to certain public spaces and circumscribed the often law abiding activities in which they can engage within them. Whilst also exploring possible links between the outbreaks of urban disorder witnessed in many English cities during August 2011 and the narrowing of the mesh of social control experienced by young people, especially the most marginalised, in preceding years, this paper is most concerned with tracing and seeking to explain aspects of the control complex ranged against ‘deviant’ youth in contemporary urban Britain.