(January 2010) Fearscapes? Visions from the Contemporary city: Between Rhetoric of Security and Border Spaces
«Planning and urban management discourses are, and always have been, saturated with fear. The history of planning could be rewritten as the attempt to manage fear in the city» (Sandercock, 2002; p. 15).
The danger in the city and, above all, the perception of the danger in it seems to be taking everyday more and more space on the agendas of politicians and planners. And there is some evidence that this crescendo has begun around the 80s (Roberts & Slatans, 1998).
Is there any relationship between the phenomenons of dispersion variously characterizing the contemporary city and the growing of the relevance of the discussions on security? I suggest this relationship exists and I propose to call Fearscapes the growing spaces of the fear in the contemporary city.
Furthermore, is the urban fear an unavoidable consequence of the contemporary urban life? Or does some political use of it exist? Are discourses of fear used as instruments of power? I suggest they are and I will try to analyze them following John Forester's concept of misinformation (1989).
Objective and structure of the research
The research is structured into four main parts. The first part will provide the theoretical framework the research lies in. It will present a reading I call Border, trying to stress on the growing of a frontier condition into the contemporary city.
The second part will frame the theoretical core of the research. I will question the relationships existing between the spaces of fear into the contemporary city and the Border reading, trying to understand the role of political discourses of fear into the planning practice.
The third part will connect the theoretical works with the empirical evidences coming from literature and case studies. I will present five spatial categories to study the spaces of fear: Enclosure, Barrier, Post-Public Space, Control, Void.
A last part will try to start outlining some theoretical and practical tools to face discourses of fear.
The conceptual framework will be outlined overlapping contributions from a various range of disciplines: readings of the contemporary urban transformations (Martinotti, 1993; Sorkin, 1992; Davis, 1992); studies on modernist and post-modern planning (Castells, 1972; Ellin, 1996); communicative planning (Forester, 1989; Hillier, 1992; Young, 1990); insurgent planning (Sandercock, 1998); psychological studies on the city (Epstein, 1998; Jacobs 1961); post-modern urban geography (Soja, 1992); philosophical studies on modern space (Foucault, 1975; Benjiamin, 1982); urban sociology (Amendola, 1997).
Notes on methodology
The structure of the research is designed to produce the main goals in the central part of the work. There, the theoretical framework will collide with the empirical evidences coming from the last part of the research. The main methodological tools I will use to make theory and evidences collide will be the concept of structured misinformation (Forester, 1989) and the multidisciplinary concept of metaphorical inference (Dematteis, 1995).
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