Geographies of Geborgenheit: Beyond feelings of safety and the fear of crime

Hutta, J. Simon (2009). Geographies of Geborgenheit: Beyond feelings of safety and the fear of crime. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 27(2) pp. 251–273.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1068/d3308

Abstract

This paper critically engages with the concepts of ‘feelings of safety’ and ‘fear of crime’ as they have been deployed in recent politics of community safety. While the first part of the paper discusses the staging of what is referred to as a dispositif of safety that discursively frames subjective-spatial relations in powerful ways, the second part moves towards an understanding of lived experiences of spaces and places that unfold within, but also beyond, the dispositif of safety. For this purpose, the German concept of Geborgenheit is introduced. For a theoretical elaboration of this concept Walter Benjamin’s work around experience and temporality is referred to and articulated with Deleuzian theory. An analysis of Geborgenheit, it is argued, displaces hegemonic notions of ‘safety’ by addressing the dynamics that enable subjects to open up to and nest within a place. The article concludes with a discussion of vignettes from a qualitative study in Berlin in order to exemplify the constitution of geographies of ‘Geborgenheit’ in the context of recent safety politics.

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