Research title
FCITIES: Fragile cities in the global South: Societal security, environmental vulnerability and representative justice

Research timeline
1.9.2016 -

Keywords
environmental vulnerability, representative justice, Societal security, urban insecurity, urban risks, urban violence

Region
Asia, Latin America

Countries
COLOMBIA, FINLAND, GUATEMALA, INDIA, MEXICO

Institution
University of Helsinki
Department of Political and Economic Studies
Helsinki, Finland

Type of project
Research, Development and Innovation

Funding instrument
Ministry for Foreign Affairs (ICI, HEI-ICI, N-S-S), Academy of Finland

Head of research
Anja Nygren

Research team
Anja Nygren, Florencia Quesada, Mauricio Romero, Elisa Tarnaala, Kjell-√Öke Nordquist

Partners
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Universidad Juarez Autónoma de Tabasco (UJAT), Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR), Universidad de San Carlos (USAC) in Guatemala, Universidad Javeriana in Colombia and University of Calcutta in India.

Contact information
Anja Nygren
0294124270
anja.nygren@helsinki.if

Record last updated
15.5.2018

Research summary

The project analyses the ways that fragile cities are dealing with societal security, environmental vulnerability and representative justice in the spaces of multi-scale governance. The dimensions to be analysed are: 1) governance of insecurity and creation of accountable institutions; 2) authoritarian legacies and political-representation efforts; and 3) governance of environmental vulnerabilities and claims for justice.
The research aims to develop a revised theory of urban political ecology and urban justice to better understand the interlinkages and scalar complexities of societal security, environmental vulnerability and representative justice.

Description

Cities are emerging as key arenas to deal with challenges related to societal security, environmental vulnerability and representative justice. This holds true especially in the global South, where 72% of the world's urban population is living. This project will search new ways to manage the three critical issues for fragile cities of the South: societal insecurity, environmental vulnerability and representative injustice, in order to promote enhanced security and equality.
The project analyses the ways that fragile cities are dealing with societal security, environmental vulnerability and representative justice in the spaces of multi-scale governance. The dimensions to be analysed are: 1) governance of insecurity and creation of accountable institutions; 2) authoritarian legacies and political-representation efforts; and 3) governance of environmental vulnerabilities and claims for justice. These dimensions will be examined within the context of neoliberal governance, rights-based discourses and the search for liveable cities.
The main aim of this research is to analyse the roles of new city-authority coalitions, organized civil-society groups, and informal-network actors engaged in seeking new ways to manage societal insecurity, environmental vulnerability and representative justice in fragile cities of the global South. We examine these challenges through a theoretical framework that allows careful consideration of the multiple intersections between the state and society, formal citizenship and informal agency, and networked politics and multi-scale governance.
The research analyses how A) the new agendas to manage security challenge existing structures of urban violence and illegality, B) transnationally connected movements contest authoritarian legacies that repress social contestations, and C) the new forms of mitigating urban risks and vulnerabilities may lead to enhanced justice.
The research will focus on Guatemala City, Guatemala; Calcutta, India; Bogot√°, Colombia and Villahermosa, Mexico. Through these cases, we will identify the opportunities and constraints involved in the new forms of managing insecurities in fragile cities. The methods include thematic interviews and participant observation with policymakers, activists and residents. Archival research and analysis of official documents and unpublished testimonies will be crucial for gaining deeper understanding of everyday conditions of vulnerability. By emphasizing local agency and the need to analyze societal security from a multi-scale perspective, the study will increase theoretical, methodological and societal understanding of the complex interlinkages between societal security, environmental vulnerability and representative justice in fragile cities.