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One of the recurring features of the ‘war on terror’ has been a tendency to imagine the world’s geographical and physical spaces in ways that recall classical distinctions between the civilised centre and the barbarian periphery. However these distinctions are imagined, they invariably provide a justification for endless military interventions and the imposition of quasi-imperial discipline on the world’s ‘wild places’.
It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that some of the most original critics of 21st-century imperialism have been geographers by profession. Derek Gregory, David Harvey and Stephen Graham have all written important and essential books on contemporary geopolitics for a non-academic audience.
A specialist in urban geography at Newcastle University, Graham has a specific concern with the modern city and the way cities are represented in the military imagination. In the US military in particular, a stream of strategy papers,
thinktanks, war games and simulations have depicted the
city as a zone of disorder and a potential obstacle to US military power.
This ‘new military urbanism’ is partly influenced by the real battles in Fallujah and Baghdad, and by Israeli campaigns in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon. But the Pentagon’s vision of the city is made up of many different components, from Christian fundamentalism, cyberpunk fantasies of urban breakdown and a right-wing aversion to the cosmopolitanism of the modern city to a generalised ‘othering’ of the Arab world, where the military sees itself fighting most of its urban battles in the immediate future.
All these tendencies are dissected by Graham in sharp, lucid and elegant prose. Whether analysing the dystopian implications of military robotics, deconstructing orientalist fantasies in the mock ‘Arab’ cities constructed by the US and Israeli armies, or analysing the phenomenon of ‘ubiquitous borders’, Graham is consistently insightful and compelling. He has produced an indispensable analysis of the dark fantasies that the military imagination is seeking to realise in the coming century.
Grace Blakeley investigates the curious case of Carillion: how the company’s slow decline and abrupt liquidation reveals the nature of modern capitalism.
The collapse of Carillion could be a watershed moment. Let's seize it to end economically disastrous outsourcing schemes. By Cat Hobbs.
Campaign groups highlight UK complicity in Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses.
Three founders of Momentum talk to Ashish Ghadiali about the two years that have transformed their lives and the fortunes of the British left.
Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade gives the run-down on one of the UK's most profitable - and most deadly - industries.
The real story behind the fire in Grande Synthe’s Linière refugee camp, Dunkirk. From 'Bordered Lives – How Europe fails refugees and migrants' by Hsiao-Hung Pai
Javier Pérez De La Cruz writes about the working class Berlin neighbourhood wrung dry by gentrifiers.
Across the world, thousands of protesters are taking on the planet’s biggest fossil fuel companies. We should support them – and if we can, we should join them. By Kara Moses
Students are suffering the effects of financial instability, stress, and slashed mental health services. Mark Crawford reports.
They're not defending free speech - they're just seeking to shore up their own power, writes Ilyas Nagdee
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns