Forensic Architecture: Digital Citizen Intelligence in the Age of Urban Warfare

Carla Ulrich

In: PolisReflects 1(1), pp. 28-39

Abstract: 
Forensic Architecture is an emergent investigatory practice
and the name of a multidisciplinary research collective
founded in 2010. They produce architectural evidence
around human right violations and environmental destruction
perpetrated by states and public actors. By integrating
human rights research within architectural frameworks and
technological innovation, they have developed a unique
set of methods. Extending the discipline of open source
intelligence, they empower victims to become agents of
investigation. How effective is this approach for investigating
contemporary political and environmental conflicts,
and addressing state violence? Based on all investigations
published by Forensic Architecture until March 2019, this
article aims to evaluate the judicial and communicative
impact of their work. It demonstrates that their effectiveness
in courts is comparably low, and argues that their main
quality is instead symbolic: with their investigations, they
expose disinformation strategies, shape narratives around
current conflicts and contribute significantly to a critical
public discourse
Keywords: Human rights investigation; open source intelligence;

spatial evidence; forensics; research architecture

© 2015-2018 Polis180 e.V. | Grassroots-Thinktank für Außen- und Europapolitik

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