Making War at Home in the United States: Militarization and the Current Crisis



Our job as intellectuals, this article argues, is to struggle to understand the crisis presented by terrorism in all its forms. This can center on a theoretical account of militarization and its relationship to broader social changes, from the emergence of nationstates to the course of racialization and other inequalities to the convergence of interests in military spending. The article gives a terse historical account of the 20th-century history of the militarization process and of the distinct modes of warfare that have developed over that time. To account for the growth of militarization over the last half of the century requires a focus on the growth of U.S. hegemony and the naming of the empire that dominated the global scene as the most recent crisis opened on September 11, 2001. This account suggests how we can connect these global and national histories with specific ethnographically understood places and people, giving some examples from ethnographic and historical research in a military city, Fayetteville, North Carolina. Finally, this review of militarization suggests that the attacks on the United States, and the war that followed, represent a continuation and acceleration of ongoing developments, rather than sharp openings in history. These new developments include reasons for hope that the legitimacy of violence and empire may also be under challenge. [Keywords: militarization, modes of warfare, United States, ethnography of empire]