The Insecure City demonstrates how experiences of moving through Beirut are characterized by an insecurity wrought not only by the anticipation of violence, but also by the workings of class, political, and state power. By focusing on matters of mobility and security from the site of the streets, the book’s theoretical importance lies in its development of an original approach to the study of the city, one that examines the social relations of power that are produced through spatial movement.
The book focuses on a wounded city shaped by its history and ongoing experience of conflict and makes a critical contribution to the growing body of anthropological work exploring matters of security and insecurity by examining how the lived encounter with security states is reflected in movement around Beirut. It shows how the insecurities of urban and public life in Beirut are both an outcome of Lebanon’s contentious geopolitical milieu as well as part of a broader global experience of downward socioeconomic mobility and common anxieties that characterizes the human condition in the early twenty-first century. Moreover, the militarized and secured urban setting that is examined in the book, which Beirutis navigate on a day-to-day basis, is increasingly salient for the rest of the world, as the intensification of policing, surveillance, and security are quickly becoming one of the central features of life in the contemporary city.