In the wake of Mumbai terror attacks one is forced to reflect on the nature and representation of urban violence across the global South. It is clear that only certain kinds of violence and upheaval warrant attention in the public domain as reflected in the world’s globalized media. This observation immediately forces one to consider the deafening silence about the pervasive execution and symbolic order of terror in much of Africa. Indeed, 88 percent of conflict deaths between 1990 and 2007 in Africa received hardly any media coverage let alone analysis. Given that one is talking about 5.4 million deaths in Congo (DRC) alone, it is very difficult to fully comprehend the differential treatment of conflict, violence and death. Drawing on the rich perspective in postcolonial urban studies that cities can be read as targets, I seek to extend that work by bringing routinized violence, focused on social infrastructures and relations, into the analytical frame. Hopefully, the Mumbai attacks can at least open up fresh and more urgent avenues of theoretical work on the painful and extreme constitution of urban modernities in the global South.
Published in the December 2009, Volume 26, No. 7-8 volume of Theory, Culture and Society