University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Education, Equality and Development (EED) Group Seminars > Security Measures or Consolidating Insecurity Transnationally?Youth Surveillance and Protest in the Global City

Security Measures or Consolidating Insecurity Transnationally?Youth Surveillance and Protest in the Global City

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Recent research indicates that disadvantaged youth living in urban social housing are currently experiencing heightened forms of surveillance, such as police targeting, which are related to the rise of conservative legal reforms in many countries worldwide. Such reforms carry substantial negative weight in the wider public imagination as collective feelings of insecurity about marginalized urban youth are increasing cross-nationally (United Nations Development Program Report, 2012). Related research also suggests that rising public insecurity about urban youth is implicated in the creation of significant urban social divisions grounded in colonial notions of territoriality, even though such divisions exist in highly localized forms of urban fragmentation and economic and racial disparities. While the transnational nature of youth surveillance is often perceived as a given, very little comparative research has investigated the nature and consequences of these strains and the potentially unpredictable outcomes they may produce. In this talk I address this gap by investigating – against the background of global austerity, the rise of transnational cross border surveillance, and rising youth xenophobia – the underlying strains of ‘transnationalization’ as they relate to the policing of young people across time and two different urban spaces (London, Tottenham, UK: Cape town, South Africa). The discussion is organized in three parts. First, results of an urban mapping exercise are presented which demonstrate how security practices in highly territorialized cities have shaped and continue to influence the manner in which disadvantaged young people are represented as categories of abjection in different times, places and scales of the urban landscape. Second, drawing upon government surveillance data, a temporalized account of how these practices have changed over time is outlined. Finally, drawing upon archival film sources and interview data, a description of young people’s response to these practices is explored through urban ‘rioting’ and protesting and youth populist movement practices. I therefore seek to outline both the divergent and convergent ways that young people – ‘seen at different times and in different ways as threats to public order’ – respond to securitization as they navigate both the hard edges of urban decay and regeneration in mega or globalizing cities.

This talk is part of the Education, Equality and Development (EED) Group Seminars series.

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