Martial politics, violence and the everywhere war

International Conference of Critical Geography (ICCG), Athens, 19-23 April 2019.

Session organisers
Craig Jones, Newcastle University
Rhys Machold, Glasgow University
Derek Gregory, University of British Columbia

New wars and old wars, everywhere and nowhere wars, forever and unending wars. This nomenclature can distract from the immediate and local ways in which war is fought and the intimacies of time and space upon which its prosecution relies (Kinsella, forthcoming). Recent and not-so-recent debates about war take for granted what we mean when we talk about war (and not-war), but through these very debates it has become clear that we are not always talking about the same thing(s).

In this session we re-pose and extend a question asked by Etienne Balibar a decade ago: ‘what’s in a war?’ (Balibar, 2008). Balibar’s question was motivated by a desire to understand the shape, content and changing character of the ‘war on terror’ – a war (or set of wars) that has inspired many critiques across the social sciences and beyond. But the war on terror has also inspired several ways of reconceptualising war and its relation to other forms of violence, so much so that we must extend Balibar’s question about war in ways that allow us to more fully interrogate its spatiotemporal horizons as well as it’s putative exceptionality and relationship to other forms of (re)emergent violence.

Emerging approaches to war, violence and militarization herald all sorts of possible ways forward for re-thinking the war-violence continuum. Recent feminist scholarship on military and police violence instruct us to see their connections, for instance, via ‘the right to maim’ (Puar, 2017). Alison Howell has recently implored us to dispense with the concept of militarization altogether in favour of what she calls “martial politics”, signalling both a ‘need to be attentive to war-like relations or technologies and knowledges that are “of war”, and aiding in our understanding of ‘the indivisibility of war and peace, military and civilian, and national and social security’ (Howell, 2018: 118). Extending interrogations of the intersections between war and police power (Neocleous 2014) Micol Seigel’s notion ‘violence work’ develops a slightly different critique of ‘militarization’ calling out the idea of separated military/civilian spheres a liberal “fiction” yet emphasizing that the “Twin vehicles of state violence, police and military rub up against each other in productive friction” (Seigel 2008: 6). Ann Laura Stoler defines her notion of “duress” as “a relationship of actualized and anticipated violence” (2016: 8), arguing that duress is “increasingly found to be ricocheting back and forth across the imperial world” (64). In different ways, these interventions encourage us to move beyond a critique of entrenched boundaries and binaries – war/peace, military/police, civilian/combatant, etc. – to consider the politics at work within these representations. This emerging work also suggests possible novel ways forward for reclaiming and reframing these binaries and imagining new modes of resistance to war and war-like violence.

We encourage papers that broadly address the following questions and topics, not limited to:

· What is war?
· What, if anything, is exceptional, heightened or exemplary about war and how does it relate to other forms of violence and coercion?
· ‘Paradigmatic’ wars, warfare ‘laboratories’, war ‘hot-spots’
· Targeting bodies and populations
· Killing, injuring, maiming, and disability
· War power/police power
· Gendered violence and intimate war
· Infrastructural warfare
· Urban warfare/ war in/on cities
· War, medicine and health care under fire
· Intersections of war and law
· Sensate regimes and corpographies of war
· War and occupation
· Locating the everywhere war
· Algorithmic, electronic, robotic and cyber war
· More-than-human/other-than-human war
· War, ruins and historical memory

Please submit abstracts of around 200 words to by 29 September 2018. Please send expressions of interest ASAP given the very short time-frame – our apologies for this.