A Review of Rightlessness

I wrote a review of A. Naomi Paik’s fantastic book Rightlessness: Testimony and Redress in U.S. Prison Camps since World War II:

“The U.S. state often uses the declaration that “we are a nation of laws” as a pretext for the its increased reliance on rights suppression, expulsion, and carceral power (c.f. Trump, 2017). Whether in reference to the expansion of strategies for the apprehension and detention of migrants, the intensification of racialized urban policing tactics, or the torture of so-called unlawful enemy combatants, the specter of law paradoxically works to rationalize the removal of legal protections from targeted populations.”

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Manifesto for a Sustainable Future

At the end of our last classroom meeting, the students in Environmental Geography worked in small groups to imagine a future in which our lives are not beholden to the extraction and incineration of eons-old subterranean hydrocarbons.

Informed by a semester-long exploration into the histories of our shared present, and banged out in a day, this is our draft manifesto for a more sustainable future. I have to say, I’m pretty proud of these kids:

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Environmental Geography

Geography 2700 - Fall 2017

Another new class is in the books. This was a fun one to teach and the students brought a lot of really interesting perspectives to the discussions. Hopefully I can run it again soon.

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Against the Sublime

I really enjoyed the interview with Joe Masco from the most recent Cultures of Energy podcast. The pod is always good–funny and light but also rigorous and thought-provoking. I recommend. Anyway, towards the end of this episode, the conversation shifted to a discussion about the role that certain images played in producing the logics of national security in the Cold War, and the perils of repeating those practices as the security/insecurity narratives shift to address global climate change. The hosts Dominic Boyer and Cymene Howe toyed with the idea of t-shirts imploring the population to resist both the nuclear and the climate sublime.

After a long day teaching with a beast of a head cold, I didn’t want to grade. So, randomly, I made these. I don’t think they’re ominous enough, nor do they get at the intensity of these sublimes, but they still allowed me to feel productive while I watched a basketball game.



Foray into mapping

I’m lucky enough to know some really talented people, and even luckier to get the opportunity to work with some of them every once in a while. Here’s an excerpt from a map I am making for my brother-in-law that will hopefully be available in print soon. While I am not a cartographer–I only know rudimentary QGIS–I’m learning, and I really enjoy the design process and using the part of my brain that I used regularly during my previous career as an architect.


Working always together

I was reading up on Operations Research in the early 1950s, a time when human decision-making and automated/scientific decision-making were both seen as suspect in different ways. O.R. here was being positioned as an assemblage of the good parts of both, though I think that remains an open question…

The best or worst of times

From “Our Greatest Secret Weapon” a piece about O.R. by Lieut. Col. David Parker (Aug. 5, 1951) in This Week. I originally came across the citation in Rational Action: The Sciences of Policy in Britain and America 1940-1960 by William Thomas, summarized here



The contours of pacification and public safety

An interdisciplinary panel

Glad to finally say that the roundtable that I’ve been planning with Wes Attewell and Stuart Schrader has come together for the AAGs. In addition to the three of us, we’re extremely excited to have historian Monica Kim, Asian American Studies scholar (and author of the fantastic new book Rightlessness) A. Naomi Paik, and sociologist Tia Dafnos. To top it off, the inimitable (and AAG-overextended) Lisa Bhungalia will chair for us. It looks like it’s going to be a far-reaching and interesting discussion.

Here’s our abstract:

The objective of this panel session is to bring together a number of scholars who have been critically engaging with questions of public safety, counterinsurgency, and pacification. As counterinsurgency has been dubbed ‘armed social work’ (Kilcullen 2006) and pacification has been called the ‘conduct of sociological warfare,’ (c.f. Owens 2015; Mathias 2011) we are particularly interested in exploring how populations are enrolled in security practices that seek to build a framework for liberal governance under the threat of violence, detainment, denial of aid, and amplified police power. At root, our discussion will explore the many tensions between wars to destroy and wars to build. These frictions trace across a number of different dimensions including the colonial and metropolitan, as well as the historical and contemporary. The panel will thus serve as an opportunity to synthesize a number of different conversations that are currently happening across several academic disciplines (geography, American studies, international relations, history, etc.) and to tentatively hash out a more coherent research agenda that can structure future work.