Scorched Atmospheres: The Violent Geographies of the Vietnam War and the Rise of Drone Warfare

Understanding Empire: Technology, Power, Politics

This article is set to appear in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers. Cite as: Shaw, I.G.R. (2016). Scorched Atmospheres: The Violent Geographies of the Vietnam War and the Rise of Drone Warfare. The Annals of the Association of American Geographers, DOI:10.1080/00045608.2015.1115333.

Abstract This paper explores the violent geographies of the Vietnam War. It argues that the conflict is crucial for understanding the security logics and spatialities of U.S. state violence in the war on terror. An overarching theme is that U.S. national security has inherited and intensified the atmospheric forms of power deployed across Southeast Asia, including: ecological violence, the electronic battlefield, counter-insurgency (the Phoenix Program), and drone surveillance. All of these attempted to pacify and capture hostile circulations of life and place them within the secured and rationalized interiors of the U.S. war machine. The paper thus expands upon the concept of atmospheric warfare. This…

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