Projections 13: Conscripting Climate: Environmental Risk and Defensive Urbanism

***CALL FOR PAPERS - Projections, Volume 13***

Conscripting Climate: Environmental Risk and Defensive Urbanism 

Editors: Aria Finkelstein and Hannah Teicher

Paper submission deadline: January 16, 2017

As adaptation to climate change has become a concern for municipalities, resilience has largely replaced sustainability as the dominant environmental framing in planning discourse (Fainstein 2015, Vale 2014). This shift towards the “securitization of nature” (Davoudi 2014) coincides with the elevation of climate change on military agendas. In the military’s conception, climate change will not only contribute to security issues from resource wars to refugee crises, but will act as a “threat multiplier,” magnifying all existing forms of risk (Vergano 2015). In the U.S., for instance, the military has been assertive in planning for climate change long before the federal government made it a policy priority. This potential alliance between planners and the military seems an unlikely one, but in fact there is a long history of planners both shaping urban form to meet security needs and appropriating military technologies and systems. Still, given the current iteration of urban risk, planners must consider the relationships between security, urban form, and ecological risk anew.

This new resilience agenda has also prompted an important shift in the role of “nature” within urban planning; nature has once again become a threat rather than the beneficent asset imagined in sustainability discourse (Davoudi 2014, Nash 2014). While resilience has been touted as offering a more constructive conception of human-environment relations, it has been criticized for obfuscating power dynamics. Some urban scholars argue that planning and policy moves harness this idea of ecological risk to foster a “dual city” (Castells 1984, Graham and Marvin 2001, Davis 2006), exacerbating uneven development and “fortress” urbanism. Defensive ecological infrastructure creates “premium ecological enclaves” for those with the means to insulate themselves from the worst effects of climate change (Hodson and Marvin 2010), while it renders everyday urban space increasingly less habitable for the rest (Castells 1984; Simon and Marvin 2001).

We invite papers that look at this intersection of security—especially as conceived of by the military and police—and ecological risk in the built environment, including, but not limited to, the following: 

  • How security organizations are using language and/or tools similar to those of urban planning organizations, comparing the impact on framing and implementation
  • Whether and how forms of defensive urbanism are changing in response to particular conceptions of climate risk
  • How security discourse interacts with climate justice agendas at multiple scales
  • The relative impact of a military climate agenda in the political context of a rightward, anti-globalization turn in U.S. and European politics
  • Security framings in relation to other contemporary climate discourses, and its relative strength and effects
  • How urban plans or urban landscapes are being shaped to address the intertwined challenges of security and climate change
  • The role of security in prioritizing mitigation versus adaptation in the built environment
  • The translation of design practices from direct security applications to other types of urban climate adaptation
  • The production of urban space in response to climate security risks, through design proposals or interventions

Papers will be juried through a blind, peer-review process by an editorial board. Authors will be invited to present projects at a symposium to be hosted at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning April 4, 2017. This volume of Projections will be published in the fall of 2017.

Please send papers of between 5,000-7,000 words (excluding references) to Aria Finkelstein ( and Hannah Teicher ( by January 16, 2017.





  • Castells, M. (1984). The Informational City: information technology, economic restructuring, and the urban regional process. Oxford, UK; Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
  • Davis, M. (2006). City of Quartz. New York, NY: Verso Books.
  • Davoudi, S. (2014). Climate change, securitisation of nature, and resilient urbanism. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy32(2), 360–375.
  • Fainstein, S. (2015). Resilience and Justice. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 39(1), 157-167.
  • Graham, S. (2011). Cities under siege: The new military urbanism. New York, NY: Verso Books.
  • Graham, S., & Marvin, S. (2001). Splintering urbanism: networked infrastructures, technological mobilities and the urban condition. London; New York: Routledge.
  • Hodson, M., & Marvin, S. (2010). World Cities And Climate Change: Producing Urban Ecological Security. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill International.
  • Nash, R. (2014). Wilderness and the American mind. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  • Vale, L. (2014). The politics of resilient cities: whose resilience and whose city? Building Research & Information, 42(2), 191-201.
  • Vergano, D. (2015). Meet the woman whose two-word catchphrase made the military care about climate. Buzzfeed News. < on November 11, 2016).