The Security-Threat-Community

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11 Citations (Scopus)


At the height of ‘the Troubles’ in 1976 social-housing in Belfast was in a crisis situation as communities consolidated along ethnic boundaries, often with violent consequences, with some communities becoming drastically overcrowded and others falling into abject dereliction. Using declassified government documentation this paper examines how these events legitimised an emergent confluence of housing and security policy which brought into being the security-threat-community; a socio-material construct where every person is a potential insurgent and every dwelling a potential security-threat. Crucially, the paper problematises the complex entanglement of political, military, paramilitary, economic and ideological forces which shaped its formation. The discussion traces a descent through contingent events within a wider dispositif and reveals the formation of the Standing Committee on the Security Implications of Housing, a confidential government body which assessed the viability of social-housing procurement within communities in terms of the security-threat it might present rather than the housing-need that it would address. As a complement to post-911 discourses concerning increasingly ‘globalised conflicts’ the security-threat-community reinforces the complexities of local discursvities. The paper makes visible the sophisticated socio-material effects of these operations and illustrates how they remain embedded within contemporary community structures. The paper concludes by reflecting on how this permits conflict-era forces to remain active, but largely unacknowledged, within the post-conflict era. Ultimately the paper argues for a ‘revaluing of the value’ of this conflict-architecture within post-conflict policy frameworks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)699-723
Number of pages25
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 25 Jan 2018


  • Architecture
  • Conflict
  • Society
  • Military
  • Urban
  • Belfast
  • Planning


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