The Spatial Life of Security: Durban, South Africa

Hentschel, Christine

The dissertation by Christine Hentschel seeks to reanalyse security governance beyond government action while interconnecting and continuing to develop existing theories on spatial governance and responsibilization. Based on her study of new projects of security and city improvement in Durban, a South African city with 3.4 million inhabitants, she shows that the creation of security is no longer the sole responsibility of the police, but is handed over to the public and “outsourced” to spatial design. Everybody is called upon to act as an expert for (in)security and to create their own crime-related “navigation systems” for urban spaces. In addition, city planners, security managers, hotel and club owners and committed citizens are rediscovering the opportunities of spatial design: exclusive forms of spatial governance (as during apartheid) are superimposed by new forms of governance aiming at creating positive atmospheres. Security is no longer regarded as a concept that can be created and defended everywhere and for everybody, but as a concept that can be realized only in isolated “bubbles of governance”. New forms of social fragmentation and exclusion are no longer solely based on race or class, but are more flexible and depend mainly on access to technologies, lifestyle and communication networks as well as spatial location. The project, headed by Ulf Engel, was funded by the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes) and has been successfully finalized in 2010 with the thesis defence by Christine Hentschel.