Afterwar at City’s Edge

Authors: Emma Crane*, SCA
Topics: Urban Geography, Development, Migration
Keywords: empire; postconflict; counterinsurgency; poverty
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: 8211, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Miami is the base of operations for U.S. Southern Command (SouthCom), responsible for all U.S. military action and military aid in Latin America and the Caribbean. Operating in a region that is ostensibly “at peace,” SouthCom soldiers and contractors engage in diverse forms of counterinsurgency and militarized humanitarianism, from regional drug interdiction and counter-narcotics training to administering the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay. Instead of tracking these projects abroad, this paper takes up the domestic aftermaths of liberal counterinsurgency in a southern suburb of Miami. A military base of operations for U.S. Southern Command, this suburb is also home to SouthCom soldiers, indigenous Guatemalan refugees, and ex-combatants from wars in Iraq, Panama and Colombia. A crucial node in the War on Terror and the War on Drugs, it is at once a site for postconflict reintegration and ongoing redeployment. Following Zoë Wool, I argue that the urban afterwar--the time after war formally ends, yet remains in embodied experience and spatial relationships--is characterized not by spectacular violence but by diffuse and everyday forms of harm. Drawing on fifteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in Miami, I ask: how do diverse groups of municipal activists make claims to the (post)-conflict city? What kinds of politics emerge at the intersection of forced displacement, militarism, and peripheral urbanization? And what do practices of social repair tell us about the fragmented and unsteady “collateral afterworlds” of liberal empire (Livingston & Wool 2017)?

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