Lethal Cities, And Eyal Weizman
Thinking back to an earlier post on this blog, written at the time of Israel's bombardment of Beirut, I don't want to lose sight of the fact that contemporary cities are increasingly militarised spaces, and that city warfare is one of the major preoccupations of today's military strategists. Even the fortress of the City of London betrays such preoccupations, but there are other cities, of course, where warfare is a much more literal and everyday component of city life.
This has been the long-term focus of the work of Eyal Weizman.
A recent paper of his is summarised thus:
"The fact that most contemporary military operations are staged in cities suggests an urgent need to reflect on an emergent relationship between armed conflicts and the built environment. Contemporary urban warfare plays itself out within a constructed, real or imaginary architecture, and through the destruction, construction, reorganization, and subversion of space. As such, the urban environment is increasingly understood by military thinkers not simply as the backdrop for conflict, nor as its mere consequence, but as a dynamic field locked in a feedback-based relationship with the diverse forces operating within it – local populations, soldiers, guerrilla fighters, journalists and photographers, and humanitarian agents. This essay belongs to a larger investigation of the ways in which contemporary military theorists are conceptualizing the urban domain. What are the terms they are using to think about cities? What does the language employed by the military to describe the city to themselves (for example, at international conferences dealing with urban warfare) and to the general public (most often through the media) tell us about the relationship between organized violence and the production of space? What does this language tell us about the military as an institution? Not least important is the question of the role of theory in all these operations."