Upcoming talk at CU Boulder, and the ‘wasteland which recalls the war’

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A map issued by the FDC restricting flights over nuclear facilities, here designating a restricted area around Rocky Flats plant between Denver and Boulder

I will be giving a talk this Friday at the University of Colorado Boulder, as part of the Geography Department’s Colloquia Series. More details on exact place and time can be found here. Continue reading

Dumpsters and Sewage: Ecologies of No-Man’s Land

Since the occupation of East Jerusalem by Israel in 1967, great efforts have gone to eradicate the no-man’s land that separated the two parts of the city until then. Today, even residents will be hard pressed to point out to the exact spaces that kept Israeli and Jordanian forces apart. But if one knows what to look for, the contours of these sites are clearly marked: Large green metal dumpsters, piles of construction debris and scattered garbage function as quintessential signposts reading “Welcome to No-Man’s Land”.

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The historic no-man’s land surrounding Government House, south-east Jerusalem, Nov. 2014.

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Art on the line: creative practice of no-man’s land

In 1976 the American artist Gordon Matta-Clark left for Berlin claiming that he intended to blow-up the Berlin Wall as his contribution to the New York–Downtown Manhattan: Soho show. Friends dissuaded him from such a suicidal action, and so instead he created Made in America. The performance included plastering advertisement posters over graffiti and tagging the wall with a hybrid Soviet-American flag.

Screenshot from Gordon Matta-Clark

Screenshot from “The Wall”, 1976, Super 8 Film

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Maps, cracks & geographical imaginations: The Princess of No-Man’s Land

A couple of days ago, while driving home from the train station, my attention was grabbed by two words – a name – broadcast over the car radio courtesy of BBC Radio 5 Live. This wasn’t the name of a person, but of a place that has long interested me, and which, at least in part, inspired me a few years ago to begin thinking about contemporary No Man’s Lands. It is certainly not a name one commonly hears on national radio within the UK, an absence that made its on air occurrence all the more intriguing.

The name in question is Bir Tawil – Arabic for ‘tall well’ – an 800 square mile trapezoid-shaped tract of land wedged in between the southern borders of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the northern border of the Republic of the Sudan.

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“Exploring No-Man’s-Land in the 21st Century”: Interview on War is Boring

Earlier this week, War is Boring published an interview with Noam Leshem on the history of no-man’s lands, their significance in the present and their constantly changing nature.

The interview was carried out days after the centenary of the First World War was widely covered in the international media. Though we expect the interest in the no-man’s land of the Western Front to increase as we near next year’s centenary of the Battle of the Somme (August 2015), the interview provides some reminders about the longer history of the term and some of the uses that expand its meaning beyond the killing zones of the Great War. Continue reading

Corpography in No-Man’s Land

From its first entrance into the English language, designating a mass burial site for 14th century victims of the Black Death, no-man’s lands exhibit an often violent encounter between bodies and the materiality of the earth. So much so, that a distinction is no longer possible.

In his 1922 essay The Battle as Inner Experience, Ernst Jünger describes how the Fronterlebnis – life on the edges of no-man’s land – dissolves the boundary between body and space, transforming the soldier into an integral part of a frontline ecology: “There, the individual is like a raging storm, the tossing sea and the rearing thunder. He has melted into everything”. Continue reading

Contours of No Man’s Land in the Cyprus Buffer Zone

For almost forty years, the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean has been bisected by a ribbon of land, patrolled and administered by the United Nations, which seeks to spatially separate the militaries of the Republic of Cyprus and the self-styled Turkish Republic of North Cyprus.

Created in 1974 as a physical means of “preserving international peace and security” (under UN Security Council resolution 186), the Buffer Zone stretches more than 110 miles – from the western village of Kato Pyrgos to the ‘ghost city’ of Famagusta on the east coast – and occupies more than 130 square miles of land, more than 3.5% of the island’s surface. Continue reading