Moving the Center: South-South Geographies of Global War

ONLINE SEMINAR 11 February 2021 9:00 PST / 17:00 UTC / 18:00 CET

February 15th at 1:05pm

Scholars have a growing understanding of the infrastructural apparatus that makes global/imperial warfare possible, from drone bases to US detention sites, airport holding rooms and other built environments. The growing public awareness of these sites, however, has yielded a tendency to focus either on military soldiers (particularly the US military) or armed insurgents as the proper subjects of scholarly and public analyses. This “military v militants” frame often renders other places and spaces invisible, obscuring the vast, multiple, and uneven transnational security assemblages that sustain the US imperial formation.

This panel will examine the everyday realities that shape US imperial warfare. It asks: what is the stuff of US imperial warfare? How do targeted citizens and populations negotiate, strategize and live with surveillance in a contested, shape-shifting terrain?Moving beyond the notion that the so-called “war on terror” operates smoothly across varying landscapes, the panelists examine how power is unequally distributed across a multitude of local security actors, from soldiers and paramilitary forces at checkposts and blockades to intelligence agents, spies, casual informants, and local strongmen. These opaque and often informal arrangements shape the everyday for targeted populations who must daily negotiate and strategize how to survive.

Samar Al-Bulushi is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine. Her current book project draws on ethnographic research in Kenya to explore the relationship between the imaginative and grounded geographies of the so-called “War on Terror” in East Africa.

Madiha Tahir is a postdoctoral scholar researching digital war and transnational militarism. Her current book project is an ethnographic exploration of life and survival among populations targeted by drone warfare in the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands.

Topological Atlas seminar series on infrastructures, empire and geographies of the global South

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