Fortress power and the politics of spatial control

Derek Denman

- completed -

This project examines the ways in which the fortress has shaped territory, nation-state boundaries, and political space. Fortresses evoke an image of massive defensive structures, offering security through their immobility. Their walls are intended to mark clear divisions between military and civilian life and between rulers and ruled. However, the history of ideas surrounding fortification and the fortresses of contemporary political life accentuate the problems with this classical image of the fortress. As walls and bunkers continue to proliferate in response to contemporary reconfigurations of sovereignty, fortifications have also moved into new, diffuse, and mobile forms. These ‘defensive’ structures increasingly serve as offensive weapons to constrain public space and exacerbate global inequalities. This project asks how the present proliferation of fortresses in new domains poses challenges to democratic society and social justice, and how these diffuse security apparatuses blur distinctions between public/private, military/police, and war/peace.

Representative publication:

Denman, D. S. (2019). Machiavelli and the fortress city. Political Theory, 47(2), 203-229. doi:10.1177/0090591718772546..

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