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Keywords:

  • war;
  • Revolution in Military Affairs;
  • new wars;
  • art counter-geographies

Since the end of the Cold War two modes of ‘new war’ have been distinguished. One, the Revolution in Military Affairs, transforms advanced state militaries (particularly in the global North) through an emphasis on stripped-down, highly specialised forces deploying cutting-edge technology with unprecedented precision. The other is waged by non-state militias and guerrilla forces (particularly in the global South) and relies on light, even improvised weapons, focuses its violence on civilians and is implicated in the criminal circuits of a shadow globalisation. Rhetorically, the first sustains a late modern ‘re-enchantment of war’– war as surgical, sensitive and scrupulous – whereas the second reactivates a profoundly non-modern ‘disenchantment of war’ as indiscriminate, callous and predatory. In practice, however, each bleeds into the other, so that it becomes necessary to expose the continuing horror of wars waged by the global North. One critical response is to show the production of three spaces of advanced military violence – the abstract space of the target, the alien space of the enemy Other, and the legal-lethal space of the exception – and then to disrupt them through a series of counter-geographies that challenges their claims to legitimacy.