Violent Cartographies: Mapping Cultures of War

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U of Minnesota Press - 241 pages
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An innovative critique of the way historians and political scientists study war.

How can we resist a nation-state vision of the globe? What is needed to "unmap" the familiar world? In Violent Cartographies, Michael J. Shapiro considers these questions, exploring the significance of war in contemporary society and its connections to the geographical imaginary.

Employing an ethnographic perspective, Shapiro uses whiplash reversals and bizarre juxtapositions to jolt readers out of conventional thinking about international relations and security studies. Considering the ideas of thinkers ranging from yon Clausewitz to Virilio, from Derrida to DeLillo, Shapiro distances readers from familiar political and strategic accounts of war and its causes.

Shapiro uses literary and film analyses to elucidate his themes. For example, he considers such cultural artifacts as U.S. Marine recruiting television commercials, American war movies, and General Schwarzkopf's autobiography, elaborating how a certain image of American masculinity is played out in the military imaginary and in the media. Other topics are Melville's The Confidence Man, Bunuel's film That Obscure Object of Desire, and a comparison of the U.S. invasion of Grenada to an Aztec "flower war". Throughout, Shapiro draws attention to the violence of the colonial encounters through which many modern nation-states were formed, and ultimately suggests possible directions for an ethics of minimal violence in the encounter with others.

The overall effect is of a complex, cumulative, and layered analysis of the historical and moral conditions of the current use of violence in the conduct of international relations. A fascinating andchallenging work, Violent Cartographies will interest anyone concerned with the connections between war and culture.

 

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Contents

Violence in the American Imaginaries
1
Warring Bodies and Bodies Politic
41
That Obscure Object of Violence
73
From the Halls of Moctezuma to the Tube and Silver Screen
106
Rehistoricizing American Warfare
136
The Ethics of Encounter Unreading Unmapping the Imperium
171
Notes
211
Index
237
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