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Professor Anthony King, Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship

Urban Warfare: Past, Present and Future

In the twenty-first century, war has migrated to cities. The largest and most intense battles have taken place in densely-populated urban areas, as the bitter fights in Fallujah, Mosul, Aleppo and Marawi show. It is highly likely that the Covid-19 pandemic and the global recession, which will follow it, will accentuate urban conflict in the near future.

The proliferation of urban warfare in the last three decades represents a major challenge to local, national and global governance.

It is a key global political concern of the early twenty-first century.

Through his Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship, Professor Anthony King will examine the anatomy of the urban battle in the twenty-first century in order to contribute to debates about urban conflict across the globe.

He will develop a detailed, ethnographic analysis of the way armed forces have operated in the new military siege conditions which have appeared.

Since the early 1990s, urban warfare has presented a major challenge to local, national and global governance. Pictured: Retaking Fallujah from ISIS by Iraqi Armed Forces and patriot militias in 2016.

Two destroyed tanks in front of a mosque in Azaz, north of Aleppo, during the Syrian civil war.

Professor King is particularly interested in the influence of weaponry on urban warfare, and will explore how autonomous weapons, robotics and artificial intelligence may have transformed the urban battle of the twenty-first century, and may continue to change it in the near future.

However, unlike some contemporary hyperbole, Professor King does not believe that that robots or intelligent machines will take over the urban battle.

Through a comparison with apparently equally revolutionary weapons from the past (such as catapults and cannons), he will argue that human social groups - not machinery – will define the character of urban warfare, now and in the future.

Find out more about Professor King's research.