Years after completing their PhDs, my former students – now firm friends – still ask me “Have you read anything interesting recently?” (I ask them the same). And my closest colleagues (also firm friends, fortunately) constantly exchange tips about books, articles, and posts that we’ve read. It’s one of the many ways in which research is necessarily social; this doesn’t emerge in co-authored texts alone, or even in the vitally necessary acknowledgements to those good souls who have endured endless drafts and provided provocative commentaries. This sort of exchange is also one of the ways in which you can avoid tunnel vision – mixing my metaphors, by scanning the wider horizon: hence Periscope. From time to time, under this heading, I’ll list stuff that is catching my attention at the moment – sometimes with a brief annotation, sometimes not; sometimes hot off the press (or, appropriately enough, the Kindle), sometimes something I really should have noticed an age ago…. I doubt that there will be much rhyme or reason to these jottings, since one of the things that attracted me to geography (how I hate its capital!) is the perch it provides for magpie minds. But I hope that others will find them interesting.
Eyal Weizmann, The least of all possible evils: humanitarian violence from Arendt to Gaza (Verso, 2012) – includes his essay on forensic architecture: forensic geography, anyone?
Patricia Owens, ‘Human security and the rise of the social’, Review of International Studies 38 (2012) 547-567 – Patricia knows her Arendt too, probably better than anybody else I’ve read, and amongst other things this is a powerful critical reflection on contemporary notions of biopolitics and, as she puts it, ‘why politics-as-life is fake politics’
Stephen Biddle, Jeffrey Friedmann and Jacob Shapiro, ‘Testing the Surge: why did violence decline in Iraq in 2007’, International Security 37 (2012) 7-40 – a spatial/quantitative analysis exploring the interplay between ethno-sectarian violence, the US troop surge and the (Anbar) Awakening; compare this with Nils Weidmann and Idean Saleyhan, ‘Violence and ethnic segregation: a computational model applied to Baghdad’ here (forthcoming in International Studies Quarterly)
Colleen Bell, ‘Hybrid warfare and its metaphors’, Humanity: an international journal of human rights, humanitarianism and development 3 (2) (2012) 225-247 – I really like Colleen’s work, and this essay intersects with some of my own essays on the cultural turn, biopolitics and war (see DOWNLOADS)
Maja Zehfuss, ‘Culturally sensitive war? The Human Terrain System and the seduction of ethics’, Security dialogue 43 (2012) 175-190 – ditto!
Janell Watson, ‘Butler’s biopolitics: precarious community’, Theory and event 15 (2) (2012) – reflection on Judith Butler’s recent writings
David Nally, ‘The biopolitics of food provisioning’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 36 (2011) 37-53 – a provocative essay by an old friend that moves brilliantly from the colonial to the nominally post-colonial, from a moral economy of hunger to a political economy of food ‘security’: a must-read (and – er – digest)
Rob Nixon, Slow violence and the environmentalism of the poor (Harvard, 2011) – includes his stand-out essay on land-mines and much more, ”Ecologies of the aftermath’: don’t miss it.
Harald Welzer, Climate wars (Polity, 2012) – I hope this is for those who were as disappointed by Christian Parenti’s Tropic of chaos: climate change and the new geography of violence as I was….
Andrew Feinstein, The shadow world: inside the global arms trade (Hamish Hamilton, 2011) – this is, after all, one of the key enablers of Obama’s shadow wars… but oh for some maps!
Helga Tawil-Souri, ‘Digital occupation: Gaza’s high-tech enclosure’, Journal of Palestine Studies 41 (2) (2012) 27-43 – I’m lost in admiration for this: passionate, probing and full of insights
Lisa Bhungalia, ‘Im/mobilities in a “Hostile Territory”: Managing the Red Line’, Geopolitics 17 (2012) 256-275 – another brilliant analysis of Israel’s ‘disengagement’ from Gaza
David Fedman and Cary Karacas, ‘Fade to black: mapping the destruction of Japan during World War II’, Journal of historical geography 38 (2012) 306-28 – this beautifully complements (and in important respects advances beyond) my preliminary investigation of the combined bomber offensive against Germany in “Doors into nowhere” (see DOWNLOADS); it’s also an elegant reminder – should one be needed – that the Harvard reference system is inimical to good writing (which this is)…
Trevor Barnes and Claudio Minca, ‘Nazi Spatial Theory: the dark geographies of Carl Schmitt and Walter Christaller’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers (March 2012 early view: here)
Kyle Grayson, ‘Six theses on targeted killing’, Politics 32 (2012) 120-128 – if you find this interesting, check out his ‘The ambivalence of assassination: biopolitics, culture and political violence’, Security dialogue 43 (2012) 25-41
David Sanger, Confront and conceal: Obama’s secret wars and surprising use of American power (Crown/Random House, 2012) – I’m not sure what is so ‘surprising’ about it, but Sanger’s account of the US hot pursuit of cyberwarfare through “Olympic Games” – more commonly known as Stuxnet – is essential reading; I’ll be incorporating this into my revised account of ‘The everywhere war’, and you can get a taster of Sanger’s report here.
Tom Junod, ‘The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama’, Esquire, July 2012 here.
Carolyn Gallaher, ‘Risk and private military work’, Antipode 43 (2012) 783-805 – a crucial intervention in the global political economy of ‘risk transfer’ and commodification, this also raises intriguing geo-legal questions about complicity and liability (as my UBC colleague James Stewart’s challenging work suggests: see, for example, this).
David Axe, From A toB: How logistics fuels American power and prosperity (Potomac, 2012) – military logistics is one of my current preoccupations, thanks in large measure to Deb Cowen, and this is a vivid account from a smart, young freelance war correspondent and a frequent contributor to Danger Room – but it says remarkably little about the sort of obstacles I describe for the war in Afghanistan here
OK, that’s more than enough for now… Diving….going down.