Cities and the ‘War on Terror’


Programmes of organized, political violence have always been legitimized and sustained through complex imaginative geographies. These tend to be characterized by stark binaries of place attachment. This article argues that the discursive construction of the Bush administration’s ‘war on terror’ since September 11th 2001 has been deeply marked by attempts to rework imaginative geographies separating the urban places of the US ‘homeland’ and those Arab cities purported to be the sources of ‘terrorist’ threats against US national interests. On the one hand, imaginative geographies of US cities have been reworked to construct them as ‘homeland’ spaces which must be re‐engineered to address supposed imperatives of ‘national security’. On the other, Arab cities have been imaginatively constructed as little more than ‘terrorist nest’ targets to soak up US military firepower. Meanwhile, the article shows how both ‘homeland’ and ‘target’ cities are increasingly being treated together as a single, integrated ‘battlespace’ within post 9/11 US military doctrine and techno‐science. The article concludes with a discussion of the central roles of urban imaginative geographies, overlaid by transnational architectures of US military technology, in sustaining the colonial territorial configurations of a hyper‐militarized US Empire.