Fighting in a Material World

“Fighting in a Material World: using and abusing the built environment” – draft MA option syllabus

Course Aims and Objectives:
Examine how the physical and material work is implicated in understanding and constructions of conflict, security and development.
Provide a historical perspective on contemporary geo-political categories.
Examine the evolving role of the built environment in securitization, politics and conflict
Introduce students to non-representational theory of affect, performativity and theories of the everyday with reference to historical and contemporary examples and applications

Week 1 – Introduction – Problematizing existing categories

Key themes:

  • Critical Geopolitics and the genealogy of the contemporary cartographic categories (Middle East; 1st, 2nd, 3rd world;  Underdeveloped/Developed)
  • The bounded nature of the nation state & borders; inside/outside; the myth of the nations state and extra-state territories.
  • Introduction to non-representational theory:  Critical Geopolitics, Affect, Performativity

Cases:  Global evolution of the state system

Exemplary sources:  (Barkawi 1999; Campbell 1998; Chandler 2008; Coward 2005; Dahlman 2005; Duffield 2007; Gregory 2004; Inayatullah 2004; Navaro-Yashin 2003; Thrift 2008)


Week 2 – Border zones, frontiers & the notion of the nation state

Key themes:

  • The role of the frontier in constructions of the nation state
  • Borders
  • Cross cultural approaches to empire building
  • Governmentality & Public Space

Cases:  Building America through the frontier; The security wall in Israel; Paris, Hausmann & Algeria

Sources:  (Basaran 2008; Foucault et al. 2003; Hirst 2001; Maroya 2003; Mennell 2007; Scott 1998; Turner 1986; Weizman 2007)

Week 3 – Equipment for Empire: Bunkers, Barracks and Camps

Key themes:

  • How the built environment facilitates empire building
  • The geneology of the “camp”
  • The role of the base in empire building
  • How securitization/”architectures of paranoia” foreshadow it’s decline

Cases: Post-WW2 Europe (the Atlantic Wall, the Nissan Hut); Albania; “My Cold War”

Sources:  (Agamben and Heller-Roazen 1998; Füredi 2007; Gillem 2007; Hirst 2001; Mallory and Ottar 1973; Piazza 2004)


Week 4 – Securing the Body/Practices of the Everyday

Key themes:

  • “Being-in” & phenomenology
  • How space is created by performance
  • How the body is politicized/secured
  • From Human Security to regimes of insurability

Cases: Derek Gregory’s “Performing Cairo”; Human Security Report 1994

Sources:  (Butler 1993; Certeau 1988; Commission on Human Security 2003; Duffield 2007; Gregory 2008; Grosz 1995; Heidegger 1977; Massumi 2002; Pupavac 2005)

Week 5 – Securing the Home/Community

Key themes:

  • The evolution of theories concerning public/private spaces
  • Gated Communities/Suburbia/Company Towns
  • Exporting the enclosure:  relationships between colonial and contemporary machinery for living
  • Surveillance/Banlieus, Ghettos/Red-lining
  • Affect; Social Production of Space

Cases:  The Gated Community in comparative perspective; the case of the bungalow; The Lives of Others/Stasiland

Sources:  (Arendt 2000; Clough and Halley 2007; Funder 2003; Harvey 1973; King 1995; Lefebvre 1991; Low 2003; Massey 2006; Raban 2006; Vale 1992; Wacquant 2008)

Week 6 – Security archipelagos

Key themes:

  • Mobility/Travel
  • Non-spaces/postmodernism/security archipelagos
  • Networks, Assemblages
  • Humanitarian Response

Cases: Contemporary Travel; Humanitarian Response

Sources:  (Auge 1995; Bauman 1998; Bousquet 2009; Davis 2000; Lisle 2006; Soja 1996; Weizman 2006)


Week 7 – Urbicide, Urban warfare, and the changing face of war

Key themes:

  • War in cities
  • Urbicide

Cases: Mostar; Iraq

Sources:  (Coward ; Graham ; Hills ; Schneider)

Week 8 – Ruins & Memorials

Key themes:

  • Theories of destruction
  • Memory & Memorialization
  • Lieux de Memoires

Cases: Holocaust; Cyprus; Photos of Car Bombs from Beirut

Sources:  (Bell 2006; Butler 2006; Davis 2002; Hodgkin and Radstone 2006; Koureas 2008; Navaro-Yashin 2009; Nora and Kritzman 1998; Stoler 2008; Till 2005)

Week 9 – Reconstruction & The Infrastructure of Empire

Key themes:

  • Post crisis reconstruction
  • Natural Disasters vs. Conflict
  • Different Approaches to Planning and the evolution of response
  • Embassies & Multilateral Buildings – from High Modernism to Humanitarianism

Cases: Iraq; Rwanda; Katrina; Aceh; the UN; Lebeus Woods

Sources:  (Barakat and Wardell 2005; Bartos and Hitchens 1994; Birch and Wachter 2006; Chandrasekaran 2006; Vale and Campanella 2005)


Agamben, Giorgio; and Daniel Heller-Roazen. (1998) Homo Sacer : Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.

Arendt, Hannah. (2000) The Public and the Private Realm. In The Portable Hanna Arendt, edited by Peter Baehr, pp. 182-230. London: Penguin.

Auge, Marc. (1995) Non-Places : Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity. London: Verso.

Barakat, Sultan; and Gareth Wardell. (2005) After the Conflict : Reconstructions and Development in the Aftermath of War. London: I. B. Tauris.

Barkawi, Tarak and Mark Laffey. (1999) The Imperieal Peace:  Democracy, Force, Globalization. European Journal of International Relations 5:403-34.

Bartos, Adam; and Christopher Hitchens. (1994) International Territory : The United Nations, 1945-95. London: Verso.

Basaran, Tugba. (2008) Security, Law, Borders:  Spaces of Exclusion. International Political Sociology 2:339-54.

Bauman, Zygmunt. (1998) Globalization:  The Human Consequences. European Perspectives:  A Series in Social Thought and Cultural Criticism. New York: Columbia University Press

Bell, Duncan. (2006) Memory, Trauma and World Politics : Reflections on the Relationship between Past and Present. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Birch, Eugenie Ladner; and Susan M. Wachter. (2006) Rebuilding Urban Places after Disaster : Lessons from Hurricane Katrina. The City in the Twenty-First Century. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Bousquet, Antoine J. (2009) The Scientific War of War. London: Hurst & Co. .

Butler, Judith. (1993) Bodies That Matter : On the Discursive Limits Of “Sex”. Routledge.

———. (2006) Precarious Life : The Powers of Mourning and Violence. London: Verso.

Campbell, David. (1998) National Deconstruction : Violence, Identity, and Justice in Bosnia. Minneapolis, Minn. ; London: University of Minneapolis Press.

Certeau, Michel de. (1988) The Practice of Everyday Life, translated by Steven Rendell. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Chandler, David. (2008) Review Article:  Theorising the Shift from Security to Insecurity – Kaldor, Duffield and Furedi. Conflict, Security & Development 8:265-76.

Chandrasekaran, Rajiv. (2006) Imperial Life in the Emerald City. New York: Alfred A. Knopt.

Clough, Patricia Ticineto; and Jean O’Malley Halley. (2007) The Affective Turn : Theorizing the Social. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press ; Chesham : Combined Academic [distributor].

Commission on Human Security. (2003) Human Security Now. New York.

Coward, Martin. (2005) The Globalisation of Enclosure: Interrogating the Geopolitics of Empire. Third World Quarterly 26:855-71.

Dahlman, Carl and Gerard Toal. (2005) Broken Bosnia:  The Localization of Geopolitics of Displacement and Return in Two Bosnian Places. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 95:644-62.

Davis, Mike. (2002) Dead Cities, and Other Tales. New York: New Press ; [London : I. B. Tauris].

———. (2000) Ecology of Fear : Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster. London: Picador.

Duffield, Mark R. (2007) Development, Security and Unending War : Governing the World of Peoples. Cambridge: Polity.

Foucault, Michel,Mauro Bertani,Alessandro Fontana,Franc ois Ewald; and David Macey. (2003) Society Must Be Defended : Lectures at the College De France, 1975-76. 1st Picador pbk. ed. ed. New York: Picador.

Funder, Anna. (2003) Stasiland. London: Granta.

Füredi, Frank. (2007) Invitation to Terror : The Expanding Empire of the Unknown. London: Continuum.

Gillem, Mark L. (2007) America Town : Building the Outposts of Empire. Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press ; Bristol : University Presses Marketing [distributor].

Graham, Stephen (ed). (2004) Cities, War and Terrorism: Towards an Urban Geo-Politics. Studies in Urban and Social Change. Oxford: Blackwells.

Gregory, Derek. (2008) Performing Cairo. Vancouver.

———. (2004) The Colonial Present : Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq. Malden, MA ; Oxford: Blackwell Pub.

Grosz, E. A. (1995) Space, Time, and Perversion : Essays on the Politics of Bodies. New York ; London: Routledge.

Harvey, David. (1973) Social Justice and the City. London: E. Arnold.

Heidegger, Martin. (1977) Building, Dwelling, Thinking. In Martin Heidegger:  Basic Writings, edited by David Farrell Krell, pp. 320-39. San Franciso: Harper Collins.

Hills, Alice. (2004) Future War in Cities. London: Frank Cass Publishers.

Hirst, Paul Q. (2001) War and Power in the 21st Century : The State, Military Conflict and the International System. Oxford: Polity.

Hodgkin, Katharine; and Susannah Radstone. (2006) Memory, History, Nation : Contested Pasts. 1st pbk. ed. ed. Somerset, N.J.: Transaction ; London : Eurospan [distributor].

Inayatullah, Naeem and David L. Blaney. (2004) International Relations and the Problem of Difference. New York: Routledge.

King, Anthony D. (1995) The Bungalow : The Production of a Global Culture. 2nd ed. New York ; Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Koureas, Gabriel. (2008) Trauma, Space and Embodiment:  The Sensorium of a Divided City. Journal of War and Culture Studies 1:309-24.

Lefebvre, Henri. (1991) The Production of Space. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Lisle, Debbie. (2006) The Global Politics of Contemporary Travel Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Low, Setha M. (2003) Behind the Gates : Life, Security, and the Pursuit of Happiness in Fortress America. New York ; London: Routledge.

Mallory, Keith; and Arvid joint author Ottar. (1973) Architecture of Aggression; a History of Military Architecture in North West Europe, 1900-1945 [by] Keith Mallory and Arvid Ottar. London, Architectural Press.

Maroya, A. (2003) Rethinking the State from the Frontier. Millennium – Journal of International Studies 32:267-92.

Massey, Doreen. (2006) For Space. London: Sage.

Massumi, Brian. (2002) Parables for the Virtual : Movement, Affect, Sensation. Post-Contemporary Interventions. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Mennell, Stephen. (2007) The American Civilizing Process. Cambridge: Polity.

Navaro-Yashin, Yael. (2009) Affective Spaces, Melancholic Objects:  Ruination and the Production of Anthropological Knowlege. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 15:1-18.

———. (2003) “Life If Dead Here”:  Sensing the Political in ‘No Man’s Land’. Anthropological Theory 3:107-25.

Nora, Pierre; and Lawrence D. Kritzman. (1998) Realms of Memory : The Construction of the French Past. European Perspectives. New York ; Chichester: Columbia University Press.

Piazza, Tom. (2004) My Cold War: A Novel. Harper Perennial.

Pupuvac, Vanessa. (2005) Human Security and the Rise of Global Therapeutic Governance Conflict, Security & Development 5:161-81.

Raban, Jonathan. (2006) Surveillance. London: Picador.

Schneider, Jane and Ida Susser (eds.). (2003) Wounded Cities:  Deconstruction and Reconstruction in a Globalized World. Oxford: Berg.

Scott, James C. (1998) Seeing Like a State : How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. The Yale Isps Series. New Haven ; London: Yale University Press.

Soja, Edward W. (1996) Thirdspace : Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places. Cambridge, Mass. ; Oxford: Blackwell.

Stoler, Ann Laura. (2008) Imperial Debris:  Reflections on Ruins and Ruination. Cultural Anthropology 23:191-219.

Thrift, N. J. (2008) Non-Representational Theory : Space, Politics, Affect. International Library of Sociology. London: Routledge.

Till, Karen E. (2005) The New Berlin : Memory, Politics, Place. Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press.

Turner, Frederick Jackson. (1986) The Frontier in American History. Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press.

Vale, Lawrence J. (1992) Architecture, Power, and National Identity. New Haven ; London: Yale University Press.

Vale, Lawrence J.; and Thomas J. Campanella. (2005) The Resilient City : How Modern Cities Recover from Disaster. New York ; Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wacquant, Loi c J. D. (2008) Urban Outcasts : A Comparative Sociology of Advanced Marginality. Cambridge: Polity.

Weizman, Eyal. (2007) Hollow Land:  Israel’s Architecture of Occupation. London: Verso.

———. (2006) “Walking through Walls”. Radical Philosophy.


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