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Publication Date

Spring 2015

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Amy Leisenring


Bay Area, Militarization, Oakland, Occupy, Urban Warfare, War on Terror

Subject Areas



Over the better part of the last decade, urban control and policing techniques in the United States have become increasingly militarized. This paper contends that such events are best understood as being situated within the emergence of a resurgent “military urbanism” — a broad set of military and security discourses, procedures and technologies initially deployed in the neo-colonial frontiers of Iraq or Afghanistan — which is now significantly reshaping urban space and governance in the “homelands” of the West. In the city of Oakland, these processes have been spurred by concerns over sharp increases in violent crime and the escalating militancy of recent political uprisings, resulting in the intensified policing of historically marginalized populations and the brutal demobilization of mass political movements. Using the city of Oakland between the years of 2003-2014 as a case study this paper argues that while these still-developing strategies have been deployed under various guises of violent crime prevention and counter-terrorism, these measures function to secure against the attendant structural instability and social unrest caused by recent domestic and global financial crises. Finally, this paper concludes with a critical evaluation of recent reform proposals and considers the possibility of future political contestation.