Urban governance in conflict zones: contentious politics, not resilience

Esser, Daniel
External Publications (2022)

in: Michael R. Glass / Taylor B. Seybolt / Phil Williams (eds.), Urban Violence, resilience and security: governance responses in the Global South, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 53-71

ISBN: 978-1-80037-972-5

This chapter builds on extant criticism of contemporary applications of 'resilience' to societal challenges. Its objectives are, first, to explain the concept's salience in policymaking on human security in cities; second, to explore its ontological limitations; and finally, to encourage an embrace of contentious urban politics. The chapter's position is cautiously optimistic about the potential of collective action by city dwellers seeking to reduce chronic and acute violence. However, such practices are inherently political - a dimension eclipsed by dominant conceptualizations of resilience in the context of urban violence. The chapter illustrates collective acts of local resistance - not resilience - with examples from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, during a particularly violent phase of the city's troubled recent past. It concludes that pontificating about resilience as desirable and attainable for cities in conflict misses the mark, and shifts both attention and resources away from actions to safeguard local approaches that can be effective.

About the author

Esser, Daniel

Development Studies, Human Geography


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