Rapid Urban Settlement, Violence, and the Democratizing State: Toward an Understanding?   [open pdf - 436KB]

"As one travels the streets of Metro Manila, there's that sensorial assault so familiar in the crowded and impoverished districts of large urban areas around the world: smells from cooking and rot, noise from perilous vehicles wending their ways through choked and chaotic streets, and structures cobbled together so haphazardly it is difficult to believe that anyone lives within them. The movement of, quite literally, masses of people from rural areas to urban ones is hardly an unnoticed phenomenon in the past decade, but what has changed markedly is the rise in political violence targeting urban centers. Despite the rapid growth in other cities in Asia, most notably in China and India, Metro Manila remains a unique example of a mega-city in the Asia-Pacific region. When one thinks of Manila, it is more useful to think not of one well-defined urban core, but rather a series of ill-defined areas spanning twelve cities and five municipalities-a combined area of about 636 square kilometers. Poverty reigns for a majority of Metro Manila's residents, casting the pallor of despair over the entire city. A family of six residing in Metro Manila should earn about $350 per month-the current poverty threshold-but instead about 60 percent of the residents earn less. Through the lens of Metro Manila and its contemporary experiences, this study explores the security implications of rapid urbanization as an enabler of political violence. Is there a definitive link between urban growth and the level of violence, particularly political violence? It appears that cities tend to have materially higher crime rates than rural areas. By examining the realm of ungoverned spaces within emergent mega-cities, violent actors, especially terrorists, and the impact from and to political liberalization, the author hopes to provide some insights into whether rapid urbanization enables all forms of extra-legal behavior-particularly political violence and terrorism. Certainly, studying urbanization and its socio-economic impact is hardly new, but the twinned aspects of an increasingly hyperurban growth in many parts of the developing world and the heightened interest in the rise of political violence make this an increasingly relevant topic."

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