Ecologies of Power
This book is not about war, nor is it a history of war. Avoiding the shock and awe of wartime images, it explores the contemporary spatial configurations of power camouflaged in the infrastructures, environments, and scales of military operations. Instead of wartime highs, this book starts with drawdown lows, when demobilization and decommissioning morph into realignment and prepositioning. It is in this transitional milieu that the full material magnitudes and geographic entanglements of contemporary militarism are laid bare. Through this perpetual cycle of build up and breakdown, the U.S. Department of Defense—the single largest developer, landowner, equipment contractor, and energy consumer in the world—has engineered a planetary assemblage of “operational environments” in which militarized, demilitarized, and non-militarized landscapes are increasingly inextricable.
In a series of critical cartographic essays, Pierre Bélanger and Alexander Arroyo trace this footprint far beyond the battlefield, countermapping the geographies of U.S. militarism across five of the most important and embattled operational environments: the ocean, the atmosphere, the highway, the city, and the desert. From the Indian Ocean atoll of Diego Garcia to the defense-contractor archipelago around Washington, D.C.; from the A01 Highway circling Afghanistan’s high-altitude steppe to surveillance satellites pinging the planet from low-earth orbit; and from the vast cold chain conveying military perishables worldwide to the global constellation of military dumps, sinks, and scrapyards, the book unearths the logistical infrastructures and residual landscapes that render strategy spatial, militarism material, and power operational. In so doing, Bélanger and Arroyo reveal unseen ecologies of power at work in the making and unmaking of environments—operational, built, and otherwise—to come.
About the Authors
Pierre Bélanger, a landscape architect and urbanist, is Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and the coauthor of Ecologies of Power: Countermapping the Logistical Landscapes and Military Geographies of the U.S. Department of Defense (MIT Press) and Landscape as Infrastructure.
Alexander Arroyo is a doctoral student in Geography at the University of California, Berkeley.
—Charlie Hailey, author of Camps: A Guide to 21st-Century Space
—Claude Raffestin, author of Pour une Géographie du Pouvoir
—Keller Easterling, author of Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space
—Jeffrey D. Smotherman, Executive Editor, Joint Force Quarterly
Winner, 2017 John Brinkerhoff Jackson Book Prize, sponsored by the Foundation of Landscape Studies