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Paperback | $39.95 Trade | £32.95 | 448 pp. | 7.65 x 9.875 in | 521 color and b&w figures | October 2016 | ISBN: 9780262529396
eBook | $27.95 Trade | January 2017 | ISBN: 9780262337786
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Ecologies of Power

Countermapping the Logistical Landscapes and Military Geographies of the U.S. Department of Defense


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.


“Casting astute eyes on a very different landscape, in Ecologies of Power, Pierre Bélanger . . . and Alexander Arroyo, assess U.S. military 'logistical landscapes' and the 'military geographies' of defense, conducted on a scale large enough to mark, and even remake, the planet.”—Harvard Magazine


“Bélanger and Arroyo recalibrate how we understand relations of military and urban space, expertly linking disparate and often invisible logics and landscapes. A graphical masterpiece, Ecologies of Power is essential reading for anyone interested in how the world is being made.”
Charlie Hailey, author of Camps: A Guide to 21st-Century Space
“Among its remarkable achievements, Ecologies of Power offers a new way of analyzing and representing the complex apparatus commonly called ‘war’ through its military infrastructures, logistical territories, and the material, energetic, informational, and financial flows that make and move through them. Deftly traversing a multitude of scales and landscapes, the book mobilizes a vast body of transdisciplinary work on the complex subject of power and its modes of spatial and semiotic representation. This ambitious and long-awaited volume is an essential reference for all scholars across the arts and sciences whose work aims to rethink how we engage—and disengage from—contemporary forms of conflict.”
Claude Raffestin, author of Pour une Géographie du Pouvoir
“The urbanists and landscape thinkers of design culture prepare exceptional documents like Ecologies of Power to describe formations at a planetary scale—synthetic and correlative research translated into measured and accessible graphics that should have more and more authority to inform global decision making.”
Keller Easterling, author of Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space
“Throughout most contemporary nation-states and Western European militaries, postmodern thought on territory is an influence with theoretical and pedagogical utility. Now with this keen addition to the literature, the U.S. security community can benefit from the scholarship of Pierre Bélanger and Alexander Arroyo, who make innovative inroads into a necessary discourse on military logistics that is too often closed to spatial, philosophical evolution.”
Jeffrey D. Smotherman, Executive Editor, Joint Force Quarterly


Winner, 2017 John Brinkerhoff Jackson Book Prize, sponsored by the Foundation of Landscape Studies