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Postmortem city


  • Stephen Graham


We tend to see contemporary cities through a peace‐time lens and war as somehow exceptional. In this ambitious paper, long in historical range and global in geographical scope, Steve Graham unmasks and displays the very many ways in which warfare is intimately woven into the fabric of cities and practices of city planners. He draws out the aggression which we should see as the counterpart of the defensive fortifications of historic towns, continues with the re‐structuring—often itself violent—of Paris and of many other cities to enable the oppressive state forces to patrol and subordinate the feared masses. Other examples take us through the fear of aerial bombardment as an influence on Le Corbusier and modernist urban design to the meticulous planners who devised and monitored the slaughter in Dresden, Tokyo and other targets in World War 2. Later episodes, some drawing on previously classified material, show how military thinking conditioned urbanisation in the Cold War and does so in the multiple 'wars’ now under way—against 'terrorism’ and the enemy within . City has carried some exceptional work on war and 'urbicide’ but this paper argues that, for the most part, the social sciences are in denial and ends with a call for action to confront, reveal and challenge the militarisation of urban space.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Graham, 2004. "Postmortem city," City, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(2), pages 165-196, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:cityxx:v:8:y:2004:i:2:p:165-196
    DOI: 10.1080/1360481042000242148

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    Cited by:

    1. Floeting, Holger, 2006. "Sicherheitstechnologien und neue urbane Sicherheitsregimes," ITA manu:scripts 06_05, Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA).

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