Urban violence is an increasingly significant global phenomenon. Over the past few years, a conventional wisdom has emerged within policy and research circles associating it with four key factors: poverty; youthful populations; the failure to consider women’s safety as a specific concern; and the local-level absence of the state. Taken together, these different factors have underpinned a range of policy interventions in a variety of contexts. Urban violence has nevertheless continued to proliferate, suggesting that the conventional wisdom underlying such violence-reduction interventions may be flawed.
The proposed research project aims to re-think conventional assumptions and offer new insights into the determinants of urban violence, including in particular identifying context-specific circumstances under which everyday urban conflict becomes violent. The study will focus on four specific cities in Asia, Africa, and Latin America: Dili (Timor Leste), Patna (India), Nairobi (Kenya), and Santiago (Chile). A key hypothesis is that urban conflict "tips" into overt violence principally as a result of qualitatively-specific "violence chains" rather than the quantitative factors. The project therefore aims to identify entry points to break linkages in these chains and foster new violence-reduction strategies both within poor urban communities and at the metropolitan level.