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War’s Many Geographies: Provincializing the Everywhere War in Syria

Authors: Ali Hamdan*, The George Washington University
Topics: Political Geography, Middle East
Keywords: War; Syria; Scale
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

A popular strand of political geography holds that we are currently living through an era of “late modern war” (Gregory 2011a). In contrast to so-called “new wars” (Kaldor 1999), the notion of late modern war is more a continuation of enduring (neo)colonial relations between the Global North and Global South (Gregory 2011b; Duffield 2007). What is new is the extent to which states in the Global North can now extend war across space, abetted by “lawfare” and emerging technologies of surveillance and violence (Jones 2016; Shaw 2016). This conception of war certainly reveals some important global processes underpinning conflict “over there,” while carrying worrisome insights into a potential future militarization “back here.” But while embracing many of these insights, this paper raises a number of concerns about framing war as tied to a coherent logic as suggested in discussions of our current “everywhere war” (Gregory 2011b). This logic, while revealing a great deal, verges on totalizing statements, leaving little room for exceptions, contradictions, or local perspectives. Drawing on the example of political motivation surrounding Syria’s civil war, and inspired by the work of many feminist political geographers (see for instance Fluri 2011; Clark 2013; Pain 2015), this paper raises three potential avenues for taking into account war’s many geographies: process, scale, and positionality. In essence, the paper makes a case for rethinking where we situate the “motives” and “lessons” of war in our scholarship and advocacy work.

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