Terrorspheres. The sensitive experience of XXI century urban security

12th Floor Hospitality Suite (R21 campus map), Muirhead Tower
Thursday 16 May (09:00) - Friday 17 May 2019 (16:30)

For further information on this workshop please email  Hilary Mousley


WORKSHOP LEADER: Dr Sara Fregonese, University of Birmingham

The workshop willenable an important, relevant and timely discussion of the dynamics of security policies and management practices in the 21st century. Addressing this topic from a multi-disciplinary approach blending a wide array of methods, skills, and perspectives from urban geography to critical security studies, from psychology to history and theology, this workshop will stress the importance of the public’s emotive experience of terror – a realm that currently sits unexplored between the exceptionalism of terror emergencies and the ordinary of daily life in the city that ‘continues’ despite terror threats and actual events.

Discussion will develop around how emotion, collective atmosphere and sensitivity shape how security is articulated, planned, and applied by public authorities, and how these sensitivities are mobilized, negotiated, amplified, etc. by ordinary citizens through everyday practices and across different sites.

The workshop builds on and develops two existing projects in order to shape further research and outcomes:

  1. Violent emergencies and the urban geopolitics of affect. Exploring the emotional mechanisms of urban lockdown in Paris and Brussels. This was an exploratory study of the role of collective sensitivity and emotion in both official and everyday responses to terror threat and to the aftermath of terrorist attacks in two European cities.
  2. “Living in cities with terror” research project currently undertaken by a network of academics from the University of Birmingham, the University of Heidelberg (Germany) and the University of Cergy-Pontoise (France) where the project is based.

The aim is to connect these projects with society as a whole and, more particularly, to incorporate local stakeholders in the development of a future and more substantial research bid. The workshop will call upon expertise from practitioners and take the perspective of stakeholders from the Birmingham and West Midlands area, to identify and address issues about which further research is most urgently needed. Stakeholders include representatives from Birmingham City Council’s Emergency Planning department and Birmingham Resilience Team, who deal with those aspects of emergency planning relevant to the workshop i.e. related to ensuring welfare, providing rest centres and crisis/psychological support and provide information to the public, as well as ‘setting the tone’ for both the aftermath of emergencies and situations of heightened threat.

Format of the workshop

Day 1: meeting between the two existing projects teams. Aims: to present preliminary research findings, plan the publication portfolio and pose a preliminary structure of a larger bid. 

Day 2: larger workshop with Birmingham-based practitioners and international delegates. Aims:  to exchange knowledge between academia and practice on concepts, methods and empirical comparability on the issue of the role of collective and everyday emotive aspects in XXI century terror threats and emergencies; to orient and facilitate fieldwork by the Cergy-based project researcher in Birmingham; to co-shape a future bid involving academic and non-academic delegates as project partners and/or international Co-Is.