Urbicide is a term that literally translates into “violence against a city”. The term was coined by Michael Moorcock in 1963 and was later used in the 1960s by those who criticized the restructuring of the United States. The term was born in the era of rapid globalization and urbanization. Rapid globalization has led to an increase in violence and destruction within cities rather than in surrounding areas. The physical destruction of a city is the most obvious form of disaster. However, the disaster can occur in various imperceptible forms such as the government designating certain areas of a city as slums or urban areas. Urbicide can be direct or indirect.
Direct urban murder is the deliberate deliberate material destruction of urban areas. It is the most common type of urban destruction in the world. Extreme disaster is the complete destruction of urban areas with the attempt to completely destroy its identity. The destruction of urban areas does not focus only on buildings, but includes everything that gives the city an identity. The extreme urbicide takes place alongside other forms of violence such as political and civil violence such as genocide and ethnic cleansing. Another form of direct urbicide is the destruction of buildings of a specific type or with a symbolic meaning to the city as religious, national and cultural buildings. This is an effort to erase the collective memory embodied in these historic buildings. The third case of direct urbicide is the unbridled destruction of the urban environment, including all types of buildings. In this case, the entire built environment is under siege as happened in the destruction of Nablus Old Town.
Indirect urbanization involves measures and actions that contribute to the detriment of an urban area. Actions and measures are often less physically visible but involve laws, measures and actions that cause indirect destruction to the city. Indirect urbanization can lead to disaster for construction or for urban areas.
Cases of Urbicide
The destruction of cities is part of history and an activity present in modern cities. The siege of Vukovar, led by the Yugoslav People’s Army (YPA) and supported by numerous Serbian paramilitaries in 1991, indiscriminately destroyed city buildings such as schools, public facilities, factories and houses. The systematic destruction of the city has been described by various sources, including human rights bodies as a disaster. The violence in Sarajevo between 1992 and 1995 saw YPA besiege the city. Violence has been defined as ethnic cleansing and has resulted in the complete annihilation of the environment built by Sarajevo. The deliberate destruction of Aleppo has been described by some scholars as a disaster. In 2005, over 700,000 people were forced from their settlement in Zimbabwe in the Murambatsvina operation. The operation involved the destruction of homes, markets and other collective settlements.