Rethinking "Buliding Resilience"

Conflict and the Middle East city

Authored by: Bruce Stanley

Routledge Handbook on Middle East Cities

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138650749
eBook ISBN: 9781315625164
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315625164-19

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Abstract

This chapter introduces the concept of “resilience”, which is now widely used within the global urban policy discourse as a trope for neo-liberal city improvement and policy prescription. The argument promoted by the Rockefeller Foundation, the World Bank, and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction focuses on a definition of resilience concerned with urban disaster and risk arising from poor municipal governance confronting natural disaster. The global urban resilience project which emerges from this particular policy space tasks national governments and their (designated and constrained) municipalities with implementing improved technical/bureaucratic models of urban governance and shifting budget priorities. Middle Eastern cities are significantly engaged with such projects and are willing participants in disaster risk reduction. Yet this narrow “building resilience” policy space grounds its resilience praxis on a discourse of disasters that ignores armed conflict as a key risk to human security. Given the substantial “conflict urbanism”, armed conflict, sovereign violence, urbicide, and terrorism currently occurring in Middle Eastern cities, a critical rethink of the definitional and conceptual core of the global urban resilience project and its policy prescriptions is required. “Resilience”, as currently employed by IGOs, donors, and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) to guide urban resilience projects and grants across the region, is simply irrelevant to the objective risks actually confronting Middle Eastern cities. By rethinking “building resilience” in order to (re)centre the substantial armed violence and urbicide risks that actually confront Middle East cities, new, smarter projects and policy support for cities from Gaza and Beirut to Mosul, Aleppo, Raqqa, Sana’a, and Baghdad may well emerge.

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