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Clear, Hold and Build: The militarization and redevelopment of Kingston Jamaica

Authors: Tashanna Walker*, Rutgers University - New Brunswick Campus
Topics: Urban Geography, Military Geography, Development
Keywords: urban political geography, critical military geography, ethnography, redevelopment
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This study examines the connections between recent efforts by the Jamaican state to redevelop Kingston’s waterfront while simultaneously militarize adjoining inner city communities. Additionally, this study explores the effects this long term military occupancy has on residents in targeted communities. This project draws on rich ethnographic research, archival research, and interviews as primary methods of data collection. The intended intellectual outcome for this research project is a conceptual thesis to describe how prolonged and excessive use of force has a transient sensory effect on how urban dwellers experience and respond to ‘shock and awe’. In 2017, the Jamaican Government passed the Zones of Special Operations (ZOSO) Act in order to operationalize the use of military force in residential neighborhoods. The ZOSO Act selectively target communities experiencing an upsurge in violence and provides unique measures for upholding the Rule of Law. These unique measures include, setting up military check-points, 24-hour curfews, indiscriminate access to and searching of private property, mass detention, and frequent foot patrols by heavily armed soldiers. Given the unprecedented and highly controversial nature of this program, whereby the military is being used as security infrastructure to govern and regulate urban life, this study will be the first of its kind coming out of the Anglophone Caribbean and will significantly enhance how urban political theorist understand governance, security and social justice in hyper-marketized neoliberal economies of developing countries.

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