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Bases, Bunkers, and Ports: Shifting Geographies of Militarization

[CFP link]


[please circulate widely!] AAG 2015 CFP:

Bases, Bunkers, and Ports: Shifting Geographies of Militarization

In her article, “Making War at Home in the United States,” Catherine Lutz defines the term “militarization” as “the simultaneously material and discursive nature of military dominance” (Lutz 2002). She further argues that militarization describes a tense process through which societies organize the production of violence. Yet rather than straight-forward or uncontested, as the exercise of military power is often depicted, this process is often contradictory, unstable, and actively challenged.

As events in Ferguson, Missouri, during the past year demonstrated, painfully, militarization is also “intrinsic to the political and economic operations of modern nation-states” (Kaplan 2011). Ongoing forms of surveillance and the securitization of ports, urban spaces, and other sites/sights in the U.S. and throughout the world reveal further instances of the militarized foundations of everyday life. Upon closer scrutiny, projections of security against abstract, foreign enemies elsewhere often turn out to be precisely focused on up-close dissent. Furthermore, the militarization of information (biometrics, big data, and such) constitutes another way in which everyday life is increasingly structured by (while also structuring) projects of “security”. These emergent geographies of militarization and their histories call for sustained scholarly investigation.

This paper session seeks to bring together innovative scholarship on contemporary forms of militarization, at the material and discursive registers, and which foreground, analytically, the spatialities of securitization, surveillance, and violence. In particular, we hope to develop, as analytical lenses, several key spatial nodes in the process of militarization and the production of violence; thus: bases, bunkers and ports. Far from fixed categories or easily controlled spaces, we provisionally theorize “bases, bunkers, and ports” as dense sites through which militarization — as a contested process— takes material shape.

In addition to more traditional scholarly methods and analysis, the paper session also seeks artists, activists, journalists, and authors; modes of art, research, and creative critique which, along with the discipline of geography, has worked to expose the everydayness of militaritarization. Along these lines, this session encourages scholarship that examines aesthetics, visuality, and in particular, contestations of militarization. For example, what representations have “bases, bunkers, and ports” elicited and what sorts of temporal ruptures, countermeasures, or social transformations do they propose?

Possible paper topics for this session include:

- The spatialities of new surveillance technologies (e.g. data servers, fusion centers, air/space/coastal port surveillance, etc.)

- Race, biometrics, and “digital epidermalization” (Browne 2010)

- The militarization of U.S. law enforcement, and biopolitics of cities

- Geographies of detention, incarceration, migration, and rights

- Militarized environments, toxic cleanup sites, and the “weaponization of nature” (Hamblin 2013)

- Military humanitarianism, human terrain systems, and the role of academia in military knowledge and optics

- Modes of representing and visualizing militarization in art and literature

- Visual cultures of militarization; scopic regimes and visibility/visuality under militarization

- Spaces of (il-)legality, protests, and gazes of security

- Cartographic or counter-cartographic practices

- Monuments and military memorialization; the spatial politics of memory and forgetting

Note: This paper session takes place in conjunction with a speaker series on militarization through the American Studies Program and the Militarization Studies Group at UC Davis in the Spring Quarter of 2014. We are particularly interested in working with scholars hoping to develop their paper as a journal article or book, as part of a collected, broader publication on these themes.

Please email an abstract and short (2-page CV) to Javier Arbona (jarbona@ucdavis.edu) and Lindsey Dillon (lldillon@ucdavis.edu) by Friday, October 10th (the deadline for AAG abstracts is November 10th). Thank you!

Please email an abstract and short (2-page CV) to Javier Arbona (jarbona@ucdavis.edu) and Lindsey Dillon (lldillon@ucdavis.edu) by Friday, October 10th (the deadline for AAG abstracts is November 10th). Thank you!

Citations

Browne, Simone. “Digital epidermalization: race, identity and biometrics.”Critical Sociology 36, no. 1 (2010): 131-150.

Hamblin, Jacob Darwin. Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism. Oxford University Press, 2013.

Kaplan, Caren. “The Balloon Prospect: Aerostatic Observation and the Emergence of Militarized Aeromobility.” In From Above: War, Violence, and Verticality. Adey, Peter, Mark Whitehead, and Alison Williams, eds. London: Hurst, 2013: 19-40.


Lutz, Catherine. “Making War at Home in the United States: Militarization and the Current Crisis.” American Anthropologist 104, no. 3 (September 1, 2002): 723–35. 

[CFP link]

We got TouchOSC working nicely with the Sonodek last night from our phones, tweaked and toggled some very noirish audio-visual loops, a new narrative emerged… 

On a recent afternoon meandering through Oakland’s security industrial cloud, Bryan Finoki discusses the OPD’s range of secretive surveillance devices that keeps all notions of “public” contained within the shadow of the Sheriff’s badge.
(Photo by Ben Valentine, Exposing Our Infrastructure: MacroCity Conference Reveals the Secret Machinery of Cities - Core77) 

On a recent afternoon meandering through Oakland’s security industrial cloud, Bryan Finoki discusses the OPD’s range of secretive surveillance devices that keeps all notions of “public” contained within the shadow of the Sheriff’s badge.

(Photo by Ben Valentine, Exposing Our Infrastructure: MacroCity Conference Reveals the Secret Machinery of Cities - Core77) 

DEMILIT’s tour made the relationships between all of these systems of power, infrastructure, and urban design blatantly obvious. The most visible aspects of our country’s surveillance ecosystem, the security cameras and police cars, are merely one small aspect of a much larger ecology of which we can barely see. While in the Rotunda Building housing the DHS offices, we were not allowed to photograph anything. The security apparatus is designed to be opaque, and while I’d argue the Snowden revelations have shown the level of secrecy has gone much too far, the invisibility of other infrastructures is equally alarming.
Oakland Security Cloud bibliography

image

Thanks everyone who came to our MacroCity walk in OaklandWe’ll continue charting and investigation this geography, but for now, here is a selected bibliography that helped prepare this tour, as a PDF…

And our final walk map, left in Oakland for other people to explore…

image

See you soon!

Podcast — A Weaponized Urbanity: Morning Drift in Militarized Downtown Oakland

On an average, sunny day in Oakland, we took a walk to discuss the commonplace securitization of the downtown environment. “We observe objects and spaces that are produced by securitarian logic that often attempt to dissimulate their function by an aesthetic of the ordinary.”

Thanks to Léopold Lambert for having us as guests on Archipelago: The Funambulist podcast. We’re in great company! And congrats on the new Graham grant for more extensive travels and interviews!

The embedded audio is above, but best to enjoy with the whole collection of photos and maps here. itunes link here.

Ice Curtain: The End of Victory

A Proposal for a Monument to Cold War Victory by DM³, 2012-2014.

The Cold War’s victory lies in its ghostly perpetuity throughout society. Its revanchism emerges in paranoid bodies, furtive double takes on crevasses of public space, and fears of fallout burning one’s insides. Augmenting these feelings of uncertainty, a clandestine monument to Cold War victory sprouts from the north pole ice sheet as if seeded by atomic dust blowing in an Arctic wind—a new border wall that divides safety and danger, known and unknown.

Ice Curtain is a terrestrial telescope through which to peer at the many faces of the prohibited. Rare visitors who actually find this monument stare through the thin veils of dry ice, deep past the murky sheets of the Cold War’s walls, to look upon a terrain of classified intelligence. Beyond these numb distortions what one might get is a fleeting breath of a secret history. Ice Curtain is a meditative encounter with the truths and non-truths buried in the Cold War’s marbled obscurity. This icebound barricade is a symbolic looking glass into the refractory clandestine afar—meant to ponder the spatial opacity of the Cold War’s political wake, still unfurling its infrastructure of smoke and mirrors today, still haunting from its historic precipice.

Somewhere on a tenuously-determined continental edge, quietly in danger from the legacies of global climate change, cast in the sights of private satellites monitoring ongoing border conflicts where the Cold War, in fact, is still fought, a longitudinal sinew unravels as a walkable panoramic looking glass to gaze at the Cold War’s persistent black-sited history, framed in the architecture of a classic separation barrier.  Upon this surface, solid yet unstable—obstinate but in constant motion—pale imaginaries of these secret histories are conjured in a new scopic regime forged within this glass wall’s frozen gaze. The monument acts as both mirror and archive where all covertness of the Cold War will be melted down into a single pool of memory, once climate change and geopolitical conflict drags the Ice Curtain down.

Water and ice here symbolize the veils of secrecy and the liquidity of truth that we must wade through to find clarity in this spectral past, to capture traces of the unseen as they can be reduced to a new surface, and brought to light over the glacial purity of the whitest landscape. Ice Curtain glimpses and traces the government’s shadowy covert landscape frozen in time, where the Cold War’s victory remains lodged as a neverending wager over a black and white world.  


The melting of the wall dissolves the nature of this secrecy, unmoors its trapped truths, and returns the border to lucid amorphousness. Somewhere squirming towards a level surface, sonic ice worms of the clandestine’s echo resound in a warning siren played from an apex where no one can hear, until all is made water again.

-DM

download, share or remix: https://archive.org/details/ICEWALLARCHIVE

Military Abstractions: The Hidden Architecture of State Secrecy
Geographer and urban theorist Javier Arbona will give a public talk entitled “Military Abstractions: The Hidden Architecture of State Secrecy” at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, March 25, in room 101 of the Reynolds School of Journalism, University of Nevada, Reno. This event is sponsored by the Gender, Race, and Identity Program and the Departments of English, Geography, and History.
Arbona’s talk will address the visual appearance of the state in everyday life, focusing on the visual signatures of state secrecy. The architecture of state secrecy, he argues, often hides in plain sight. He will discuss techniques for capturing the movement of the state in a historical moment marked both by the ubiquity of imaging technologies and increasing disquiet and skepticism about their reach. [read more]
Details:
Date: Tuesday, March 25
Time: 6:30PM 
Location: Reynolds School of Journalism, room 101, 
University of Nevada, Reno
[Google calendar link]
**Thanks to the sponsorship from the Gender, Race, and Identity Program and the Departments of English, Geography, and History. Special thanks to Gautam Premnath for the invitation and opportunity to discuss ideas in his seminar.

Military Abstractions: The Hidden Architecture of State Secrecy

Geographer and urban theorist Javier Arbona will give a public talk entitled “Military Abstractions: The Hidden Architecture of State Secrecy” at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, March 25, in room 101 of the Reynolds School of Journalism, University of Nevada, Reno. This event is sponsored by the Gender, Race, and Identity Program and the Departments of English, Geography, and History.

Arbona’s talk will address the visual appearance of the state in everyday life, focusing on the visual signatures of state secrecy. The architecture of state secrecy, he argues, often hides in plain sight. He will discuss techniques for capturing the movement of the state in a historical moment marked both by the ubiquity of imaging technologies and increasing disquiet and skepticism about their reach. [read more]

Details:

Date: Tuesday, March 25

Time: 6:30PM 

Location: Reynolds School of Journalism, room 101, 

University of Nevada, Reno

[Google calendar link]

**Thanks to the sponsorship from the Gender, Race, and Identity Program and the Departments of English, Geography, and History. Special thanks to Gautam Premnath for the invitation and opportunity to discuss ideas in his seminar.

…presenting at Timing is Everything, University Art Gallery, UCSD, 2014. Photo by John Hanacek.

…presenting at Timing is Everything, University Art Gallery, UCSD, 2014. Photo by John Hanacek.

(Ex-?) Pentagon DARPA in-house hacker Mudge paraphernalia.

(Ex-?) Pentagon DARPA in-house hacker Mudge paraphernalia.

Round Two for DARPAHigh?

DARPA is back with part two of MENTOR, the program that brings makerspaces —and the Pentagon— into high schools. In their own words:

"DARPA’s Manufacturing Experimentation and Outreach Two (MENTOR2) program aims to improve defense readiness by improving the secondary school and post-secondary school education of those who will be called on to utilize, maintain, and adapt high technology systems in low technology environments. MENTOR2 will achieve this goal by developing and demonstrating new teaching tools and materials in the fields of electromechanical design and manufacturing. It is envisioned that project based curricula employing MENTOR2 design and prototyping tools can teach a deeper understanding of high technology systems, and better enable future competence in the maintenance and adaptation of such systems through the manufacture of as-designed components or the design and manufacture of new components."

No word yet on how the first round of MENTOR went. The past iteration of “DARPA High” created waves in the hacker world, perhaps most famously with Mitch Altman’s vocal opposition to military funding for hackers. At the time, Tim O’Reilly (whose organization Make Magazine and Makerfaire received funding) wrote that 

No word at all about the children’s personal records that the Pentagon would presumably be able to scope. No clue if any of the students did ask questions about the funding or what the military does. One to keep a close eye on…

Previously: http://demilit.tumblr.com/search/darpa

thenewcityreader: Issue 03—Puzzles

thenewcityreader: Issue 03—Puzzles

MIX: Sismografo Series Vol 12 by Acoustic Mirror

At one point in time, the duplicitous conglomerate of multinational powers that we will refer to hereafter as ‘emperor’ was satisfied to know that the subject of how people interacted with cities could be sufficiently covered by the simple term urbanism. It always validated the fact that ‘his’ territories could be seen all at once in context, by virtue of one definition, reflecting in a single gaze the totalizing image of limitless sovereignty, as if his entire empire was minted on a rare coin; urbanism as a technology of jurisdiction made royal crest.
[IN]VISIBLE SITES | This text was commissioned by Joseph Redwood-Martinez for The Exhibition of a Necessary Incompleteness, a part of Timing is Everything (October 3 to December 6, 2013) at the University Art Gallery, University of California, San Diego. Timing is Everything was curated by Michelle Hyun. The fiction was presented as a chapbook freely distributed throughout the duration of the exhibition.
demilit’s sound array aka sonodeck.

demilit’s sound array aka sonodeck.

THEME BY PARTI