The endangered city has come into being at a specific historical conjuncture
in Bogotá. At a time when vio lence was on the decline and yet security con-
cerns persisted, risk became an object of governmental concern and began
to reconfigure the relationship between the state and its subjects in the self-
built settlements of the urban periphery. Emerging out of Colombia’s pro-
tracted strug gle with insecurity in the latter half of the twentieth century, the
imperative to protect vulnerable lives from threat underpinned a new way of
governing the city and urban life but without fully replacing existing forms
of po litical authority and technical expertise or established social relations
and ethical responsibilities. This history is essential not only for understand-
ing Bogotá’s recent urban experiments, but also for leveraging them to cast
light on the proliferation of security mechanisms in cities throughout the
world. So what can the politics of security and risk in Bogotá tell us about
the global urban imagination at large?
The case of Bogotá allows us to step back and to examine the implica-
tions of seeing the future of cities, and the cities of the future, as prob lems of
threat and danger, prob lems of security and risk. This trend could be read as
signaling a break from the evolutionary models of development central to
modernist paradigms of urban thought and practice. Those paradigms and
their promises of perpetual pro gress have been thoroughly challenged, and for
good reason, yet some of their problematic assumptions about temporality
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