Violent urbanism is us

Brott, Simone (2011) Violent urbanism is us. In Moulis, Antony & Van Der Plaat, Deborah (Eds.) Audience : Proceedings of the XXVIIIth International Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand, Society of Architectural Historians of Australia & New Zealand, Brisbane, Australia.


This paper explores violent urbanism in the recent science-fiction filem District 9 whhich depicts an alien immigration camp, filmed on location in Soweto in 2008 in the midst of a series of violent clashed between indigenous South Africans and the new wave of African immigrants. Violent Urbanism is the State of method of control of bodies and populations by those precise biological techniques that determine geopolitical sites for the control of cities.

This film while presented as cinema verite speaks the real invasion of traditional, spatio-disciplinary regimes such as corporate-run detention centres, refugee camps, border control and enforced relocation by those imperceptible techniques which violate the body by reducing it to a biological datum, tool, or specimen to serve the security agenda of the twenty-first century nation-state. These techniques are chemical and biological warfare proliferation; genetic engineering; and surveillance systems, such as biometrics, whose purview is no longer limited to the specular but includes the molecular.

District 9 evinces a compelling urban image of contemporary biopolitics that disturbs the received historiography of post-apartheid urbanism. Clearly Johannesburg is not the only place this could or is happening - the reach of biopolitics is worldwide. District 9 visualises with utter precision the corporate hijacking of the biological realm in contemporary cites, just as it asks the unsettling question, who exactly is the "audience" of Violent Urbanism?

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 48148
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Architecture, Urbanism, Cities, Violent Urbanism, Subjectivity, Post-apatheid South Africa
ISBN: 9780646558264
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > ARCHITECTURE (120100) > Architectural History and Theory (120103)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING (120500) > History and Theory of the Built Environment (excl. Architecture) (120502)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Design
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 [Please consult the author]
Deposited On: 26 Jan 2012 21:07
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2013 06:15

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