Foucault’s Boomerang: the New Military Urbanism (2013)

Foucault’s Boomerang: the New Military Urbanism (2013) — interesting stuff

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Stephen Graham, Foucault’s Boomerang: the New Military Urbanism

This article was originally published on OpenDemocracy on 14 February 2013. Republished International Relations Security Network, 24 January 2014.

According to Stephen Graham, a new set of ‘Foucauldian boomerang effects’ are shaping how states apply ‘tactics of control’ over everyday urban life. Today, he traces the emergence of what he calls a new military urbanism, which applies to cities both in the Global North and South.

On 4 February 1976, Michel Foucault, the eminent French social theorist, stepped gingerly down to the podium in a packed lecture at the Collège de France in the Latin Quarter on Paris’s South Bank. Delivering the fifth in a series of 11 lectures under the title ‘Il faut défendre la société’ (‘Society must be defended’), for once Foucault focused his attention on the relationships between western societies and those elsewhere in the world. Moving beyond his…

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7 thoughts on “Foucault’s Boomerang: the New Military Urbanism (2013)

  1. no normative twist to the basic idea/mode but we can’t help but judge goals/means/outcomes and I’m glad for that.


  2. That might serve as a “darkside of prototyping” for your line of thinking/work? (don’t know if the darkside thing is of any value, but it does have a normative twist)


  3. thanks will take a look, long history of course here in the States of taking advantage of the poor, incarcerated, disabled, sick,etc, to do all sorts of experiments and pace those who take too literally “dehumanizing” talk about such peoples/victims it is precisely their being-human like those who are doing/funding/benefiting-from the research that makes them useful as resources.


  4. Patrick Carroll’s books about Irish penal colonies as well as techniques of state engineering cover some of these topics quite nicely.


  5. Stephen Graham is very interesting. I met him last spring and while his talk was – like most on the conference, mine included – more or less a summary of what his approach in general is, his comments were as insightful as his books. The “cities under siege” book is an excellent piece of scholarship and makes such a difference in urban studies.

    Also, isn´t this old Foucault quote amazing? “That while colonization, with its techniques and its political and juridical weapons, obviously transported European models to other continents, it also had a considerable boomerang effect on the mechanisms of power in the West, and on the apparatuses, institutions, and techniques of power.” (Foucault 2003:103)


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