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Sobia Kaker


Sobia Ahmad Kaker is a PhD candidate at the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at Newcastle University. At present, she is in the final stages of completing her PhD titled ‘Enclaves as Process: Space, Security and Violence in Karachi’. In her PhD project, Sobia re-conceptualises ‘enclavisation’ as a process that is directly responsible for escalating urban violence in Karachi.

Since February 2013, Sobia has been working as a Researcher at the Urban Uncertainty project at LSE Cities. The project brings together scholars from various disciplinary backgrounds who collaborate to understand the ways citizens and urban managers predict, manage and govern uncertainty across different cities. Sobia’s own research within the project reviews uncertainty through the circulation of information related to security governance in Karachi. As part of this work, she has co-authored an article titled ‘Uncertainty and Urban Life’ is forthcoming in the Spring 2015 issue of Public Culture.

With an academic background in Global Politics, Sobia is committed to interdisciplinary research. She is interested in pursuing research on relational urbanism, cities in conflict, insecurity, urban political life, and governance across various cities of the global south. Previously, Sobia has had extensive professional experience as a researcher on governance, conflict, and disaster management in various research institutions in Pakistan. She is also currently affiliated with the Centre for Research and Security Studies (Islamabad) as a Visiting Research Fellow.

Sobia is an ardent traveller. She enjoys visiting different countries and meeting people from different cultures.



Attuning to the Violent Politics of Space in Cities of the Global South

At present, governmental strategies for reducing violence in Karachi have badly failed. Despite various military operations, ethno-political and sectarian violence continues unabated in Pakistan’s largest city. With a murder rate as high as 13.49 per 100,000 in 2012, the megacity is only slightly less violent than Bogota. In this presentation I will use the case of Karachi to develop my argument that surface solutions to violence reduction are not sustainable. Instead, I argue that it is essential to root policies within a framework that pays attention to urban spatial politics to find lasting solutions for violence reduction in complex cities of the global south. In Karachi for example, urban residents counter governmental failures in security and infrastructural provision through processes of enclavisation. Ordinary urban neighbourhoods are increasingly organised as privately governed and securitised spaces which I describe as enclaves. Paying attention to the politics of space in Karachi’s enclaves, it becomes evident how practices and processes tied to the production of enclaved spaces reproduce contests in space. Tied to practices of re-territorialisation, processes of enclavisation reconfigure territory, authority and rights in Karachi in ways that threaten to restructure power and politics in the city. Also, attempts at creating homogenous space and processes of restricting circulation create unique subjectivities and reproduce difference between various urban groups. As a result, Karachi’s enclaves clearly emerge as geopolitical actors which perpetuate conditions of insecurity and violence in the city. Therefore, paying attention to the politics of enclaved spaces is essential in developing effective and sustainable policies for violence reduction in Karachi. This is also relevant for many other violent cities of the global south, which display similar conditions of enclavisation, crises of governance, and insecurity.