Urban Resilience in Situations of Chronic Violence

Urban Resilience in Situations of Chronic Violence Final Report
May 2012

Toolkit: Urban Resilience in Situations of Chronic Violence


Fragile cities suffer from violence enacted on multiple scales concentrated in a single metropolitan space. How, then, do the spatial characteristics of the city shape violence? Are urban interventions successful in transcending sectoral approaches to violence by focusing on the greater community and city?

Using 8 case studies of cities suffering from long histories of chronic violence, this report examines how citizens have evolved coping mechanisms (strategies of resilience) at various scales. Insights from field research in these cities are combined with theoretical approaches to security, violence, and resilience in order to develop a systemic, multi-sectoral approach to chronic violence.


While the sources and forms of social and political violence have been extensively examined, the ways ordinary people along with their neighbors and officials cope with chronic urban violence have earned far less attention. This eight-case study of cities suffering from a history of violence explores this latter phenomenon, which we call resilience. We define resilience as those acts intended to restore or create effectively functioning community-level activities, institutions, and spaces in which the perpetrators of violence are marginalized and perhaps even eliminated.