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Terrorism and the city: affect, space and violence in urban Europe

English title Terrorism and the city: affect, space and violence in urban Europe
Applicant Laketa Suncana
Number 179943
Funding scheme Ambizione
Research institution Institut de géographie Université de Neuchâtel
Institution of higher education University of Neuchatel - NE
Main discipline Social geography and ecology
Start/End 01.02.2019 - 31.01.2023
Approved amount 535'489.00
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Keywords (9)

Europe; Space; Geopolitics; Affect; Security; City ; Qualitative research design; Threat of terrorism; Atmosphere

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Ces dernières années ont été marquées par une recrudescence d'actes de terrorisme relativement coordonnés dans les villes d'Europe occidentale. Ces actes sont perçus comme de plus en plus imprévisibles - ils sont susceptibles de se produire n'importe où, n'importe quand. Beaucoup prétendent que l'imprévisibilité perçue du terrorisme affecte la vie sociale et politique de la ville. Cependant, la question de savoir comment la vie quotidienne de la ville est précisément affectée par la présence de menaces terroristes ne fait pas l'objet d’études.
Lay summary

Contenu et objectifs du travail de recherche
Cette recherche attire l’attention sur la vie quotidienne face à la menace terroriste accrue et face aux réponses et aux stratégies de lutte contre le terrorisme. De plus, cette recherche attire l’attention sur les expériences émotionnelles et affectives de l’espace public urbain. En utilisant le concept d'atmosphère urbaine affective, ce projet étudie les réponses spatiales et émotionnelles des autorités publiques et des résidents urbains face à la menace terroriste. Les atmosphères urbaines affectives sont analysées à travers quatre éléments différents: les éléments de l’environnement construit (conception architectural, présence de technologies de sécurité), les pratiques quotidiennes de maintien de l’ordre et de sécurisation (surveillance des activités suspectes, interrogation d’acteurs suspects), les pratiques socio-spatiales quotidiennes (déplacements et activités socio-culturelles et commercial) et les sensations et les sentiments qui accompagnent ces pratiques. L’atmosphères affectives urbaines sera analysée à Paris et à Bruxelles, qui sont des cas d’étude comparables. Ces villes ont été soumises à un moment donné à la même violence djihadiste liée à l'Etat islamique.

Contexte scientifique et social du projet de recherche
Ce projet intègre les atmosphères affectives à la géopolitique urbaine en proposant une nouvelle approche pour étudier les interconnexions entre terrorisme, espace urbain et politique mondiale. De plus, les résultats permettront d'engager: 1) des débats publics sur la nature de l'expérience de citadins et des traumatismes urbains dus à la menace terroriste émergente, et 2) des débats politiques nationaux et internationaux sur la protection de la ville et le développement de villes dites résilientes.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 27.11.2018

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
University of Cergy-Pointoise France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
University of Birmingham Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
The Cosmopolis Center for Urban Research Belgium (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
The Swiss Association for Gender Studies Conference Talk given at a conference Fear and loathing in a post-conflict city: performativity, affect, space 12.09.2019 Bern, Switzerland Laketa Suncana;
Terrorspheres. The emotional experience of urban security in XXI century Europe Individual talk Affect and urban governance: Managing emotions in the terrorized/securitized city 17.05.2019 Birmingham, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Laketa Suncana;
Cosmopolis Center for Urban Research Seminar Series Individual talk Terrorism and the city: affect, space and violence in urban Europe 02.05.2019 Brussels, Belgium Laketa Suncana;
Annual IfL research workshop, Leibniz Institute für Länderkunde Individual talk What is really real? Communicating science in the post-truth era 14.03.2019 Leipzig, Germany Laketa Suncana;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Psihogeografska ekspedicija, ljetna škola i-platforma Workshop 25.07.2019 Stolac, Bosnia-Hercegovina Laketa Suncana;
Grad i afektivna geopolitika svakodnevnog života Talk 28.05.2019 Sarajevo, Bosnia-Hercegovina Laketa Suncana;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: radio, television Grad i afektivna geopolitika svakodnevnog života BH Radio 1 International 2019

Abstract

Recent years have witnessed an upsurge of more or less coordinated acts of terrorism in Western European cities. From Paris, Brussels, London, Nice, Berlin, Manchester, Barcelona and others, the media and the government identify and label the spate of attacks in European cities as acts of Jihadi terrorism. As a response to this terrorist threat a host of security measures are being implemented on a national level, but also to a greater extent on an urban level. While international relations scholars and terrorist experts are struggling to analyze, index and measure the increasingly elusive structures of Jihadi terrorism, and critical security scholars are beginning to assess the deployment of different security measures and their effect on countering terrorism, what is less known are the less tangible effects on public life in European cities struck by the threat of terrorism and a spectrum of different security measures. In order to address this research gap, the main question the proposed project asks is: How is the threat of Jihadi terrorism affecting social and political life in European cities? Many scholars and political commentators acknowledge that the perceived unpredictability of terrorism is indeed changing urban culture, however the question of how exactly everyday lives are affected by the presence of terrorist threats remains under-investigated. As a way to address this "black box”, this project introduces the concept of affective urban atmosphere as a crucial level of experience through which terrorism and security discourses operate, as well as through which they are transformed, negotiated and contested. The proposed project builds upon my work on affective and emotional spaces of ethnic conflict in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as my ongoing research on the emerging security practice of urban lockdown in Brussels. Drawing from my specialization in assessing affective and emotional elements of space in (post)-conflict cities, the proposed project is an in-depth examination of the relationship between geopolitical violence, dynamics of collective affect and emotions, and the urban built environment. Phenomenological research design is developed to study the proposed phenomena.Located at the Institute of Geography, University of Neuchâtel, the project proposes a comparative case study of the cities of Paris and Brussels that in many ways became centers of attention in the wave of ISIS related terrorist attacks across Europe. Affective atmospheres in the two cities are studied as spatial and emotional responses to terrorist threat pertaining to two groups of actors: public officials and residents. The research design employs a methodological juxtaposition of data gathered from participant observation, security document analysis, expert interviews and walk-alongs. Phenomenological descriptive and interpretive data analysis will reveal how affective atmospheres are assembled in the context of terrorist threats. This innovative research design will advance our knowledge of the relationships between affect, space, and geopolitical violence, as well as provide essential empirics on spatio-emotional responses to terrorism in two European cities.
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