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Anna Bræmer Warburg

Policing the war on drugs and the transformation of urban space in Manila

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This article explores policing and urban ordering in the Philippine war on drugs. With an empirical point of departure in ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Bagong Silang, a poor urban area on the outskirts of Metro Manila, the article highlights the perspective of the state police in an area that has been heavily exposed to the drug war and can be considered as one of its hot spots. It is examined how inspirations from counter-insurgency strategies are implemented in policing the war on drugs and discussed how this form of policing is negotiated and what implications it produces on the ground. In doing so, the article asks, ‘how have counter-insurgency policing strategies transformed urban space and the possibility of life in the poorer sections of Manila’? Drawing on a conceptual framework on borders, policing and the production of fear, the article argues that there exists an intimate connection between the employed policing strategies and the transformation of urban space with the potential of fundamentally reconfiguring urban sociality in areas such as Bagong Silang.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Pages (from-to)399-416
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Philippines, Policing, counter-insurgency, urban borders, violence, war on drugs

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