Dissertation Abstracts

Space, Security and Violence in an Enclaved City: The Case of Karachi

Author: Kaker, Sobia A, sobia.ahmad@gmail.com
Department: Architecture Planning and Landscape/ Geography Politics and Sociology
University: Newcastle University, United Kingdom
Supervisor: Stephen Graham/ Martin Coward
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Insecurity , Urban Governance , Urban Space , Residential Enclaves
Areas of Research: Political Sociology , Housing and Built Environment , Body in the Social Sciences


In addressing the key gaps in literature on enclaves and enclaved urbanism, my project attempts to unpack the spatial politics of urban life in megacities of the global south relationally. In this context, I use Karachi as a case study to examine the various spatialisations of enclaved urbanism, and the politics of everyday life in an enclaved city.

Spanning across disciplinary divides, I develop a critical theorisation of enclaved space and of enclaved urbanism that is contextual to cities of the global south. This conceptual theoretical framework, is developed through a critique of existing literature which conceives of enclaves as spatial fragments of the city that successfully perform spatial bypass, and of current descriptions of enclaved space which reify and essentialise enclave walls and physical features as definitive characteristics (Graham and Marvin, 2001; Caldiera, 1999; Lemanski, 2004). By examining intricate negotiations between securitisation, governance, and everyday life in residential enclaves in Karachi, I will highlight the notion of enclaved spaces as agential, dynamic processual and relational socio-political assemblages that are performatively and discursively constructed, and are made apparent through patterns of circulation rather than physical form.

Through this critical conceptualisation, I am able to link enclavisation and enclaved urbanism as both a consequence as well as a cause of perpetuating insecurity, conflict and urban violence in Karachi particularly, and in cities of the global south more generally. I have to use Karachi as a case study because it is an increasingly relevant global megacity. The city of 20 million residents embodies many conditions that are generalisable across other megacities, while also having particular demographic, economic and political conditions that make it extremely pertinent as a site of analysis. Despite this, Karachi largely remains understudied. Moreover, I have chosen to focus on cities of the global south keeping in mind Robinson's (2006) argument of ordinary cities and post-colonising urban studies, and Roy's (2009) argument for developing new geographies of theory.

More widely, my project would contribute towards the agenda of developing a critical understanding of urbanism and urban space in cities of the global south—one that takes into account alternative structures of governance and state spatisations, and different ways of practicing urban life and of being urban (Simone, 2009; Roy, 2011; DeBoek, 2004; Rao, De Boek, and Simone, 2009).

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