Friday, October 20, 2017 at 1:30pm to 3:00pm
Warren hall, B73, Polson Seminar room 137 Reservoir Drive
Josh Reno, Binghamton University
A half-century after Eisenhower warned the American public of the dangers of a military-industrial complex, the US has what is arguably the largest and most expensive war machine the world has ever known. The focus of critical military studies, in anthropology and beyond, has tended to be, first, the consumption of weapons in warfare and, second, their design and production within a permanent war economy. Yet, American technological supremacy, in air, land, sea and space, tends to preserve warcraft from natural destruction in the course of battle, even as it demands continual capital investment in ever newer weaponry. With the conclusion of the Cold War, it became clear that military agencies were not destroying excess weapons fast enough. One spatio-temporal fix for this contradiction has been to trade weapons abroad, sometimes in exchange for sovereign wealth investment to underwrite deficit spending and stabilize the dollar. Another has mirrored the geographical restructuring of military manufacturing, where certain regions accumulate the excess waste of the permanent war economy. If global weapons trades potentially generate instability and provide justification for US military intervention, however, the storage and disposal of waste domestically potentially opens up opportunities for subversive scavenging and reuse. Several examples of such creative destruction will be reviewed including warships sunk by entrepreneurial divers to create artificial reefs, warplanes painted by street artists to celebrate individuality, and deindustrialized communities reclaiming the ruins of war manufacturing. The waste of the permanent war economy is not allowed to disappear in these instances, but has a productive and imaginative afterlife in the hands of civilians.