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Framing urban threats: a socio-spatial analysis of urban securitisation in Latin America and the Caribbean

Abello-Colak, Alexandra ORCID: 0000-0002-5295-7467, Lombard, Melanie and Guarneros-Meza, Valeria (2023) Framing urban threats: a socio-spatial analysis of urban securitisation in Latin America and the Caribbean. Urban Studies, 60 (14). pp. 2741-2762. ISSN 0042-0980

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Identification Number: 10.1177/00420980231160948


In the context of growing concern with violence in Latin American and Caribbean cities this paper offers an analytical synthesis of urban securitisation which involves the construction of issues, spaces and populations as security threats. The synthesis contributes to debates on urban studies and critical security studies, which focus on neoliberalism as the driver of urban securitisation and militarisation as its main expression, by highlighting the embedded, contextualised and historically situated nature of securitisation and its multiple manifestations. The paper proposes a framework for the socio-spatial analysis of securitisation processes focusing on their causes, manifestations and consequences, while capturing their dialectic relation with cities’ spatial characteristics. Bringing together Lefebvre’s conceptualisation of the social production of space with Wacquant’s analysis of the penal-assistential state, and using secondary sources complemented by primary data from our research, the paper shows that urban securitisation in this region is contingent to four socio-spatial dimensions common to Latin American and Caribbean cities – segregation, territorial stigmatisation, overlapping insecurities and territorial struggles. Using a multidimensional framework, the paper illustrates how unaddressed legacies of colonialism and notions of state power in the context of struggles with criminal actors have driven urban securitisation and diversified its targets and techniques beyond militarisation. Under a securitising logic, programmes which often appear progressive are also shown to prejudice marginalised groups and undermine democratic values. The paper concludes with a call for further multidisciplinary analyses that account for the socio-spatial and historical particularities of contemporary forms of urban securitisation in this and other regions.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Authors
Divisions: IGA: Latin America and Caribbean Centre
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2023 12:54
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2024 17:30

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