Archive for the ‘Comment’ Category

Infrastructure Security

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

I have a new post on E-IR on what infrastructure security discourses can tell us about the vulnerabilities of contemporary, urbanised, logistical ways of life. Understanding the metaphors that guide our thinking about infrastructure thus enables us to see both the way in which our our conceptual grammars affect the way we see the world as well as understanding precisely why certain vulnerabilities are prioritised above others. Read the post here.

Memorialising the Invisible

Friday, May 1st, 2015



I have a new post on E-IR reflecting on my recent trip to Ieper/Ypres for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the first use of poison Gas in WWI. The post – Memorialising the Invisible – discusses the problems of militarising or securitising such commemorations.

Read Memorialising the Invisible here.

Durham Geography Charlie Hebdo Event

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Today I spoke at a Durham Geography workshop on Charlie Hebdo organised by Angharad Closs Stephens

Here’s a summary of what I said:

1. The January attacks on Paris are representative of a form of violence that is urbanised. A form of urban insurgency that is increasingly common in cities around the world – Mumbai, Madrid, London, Boston, Nairobi. It exploits urban technologies/infrastructures – cars, rails, roads – and urban morphology – enclosed spaces, crowded spaces – for maximum effect. It is not new, but it’s effective. Military doctrine has warned of the complexity of urban space for a while, but this urban insurgency demonstrates a lack of effective response – partly because, as I will discuss in a minute, the proposed responses erode the core attributes of the urban environment that we value – freedom, plurality and so on. (more…)

Rights Fit For a Networked World

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013


I have written a new post on the politics of networked life for the Newcastle Politics Culture, Security, Identity blog at e-IR. In it, I look at the questions raised by the idea of a right to the internet and the way in which recent NSA spying has revealed the way in which our discussions about such rights are insufficiently developed. Here’s an excerpt:

The assumption of a right to connection and the reduction of discussion of its dimensions to practical concerns about access mask a deeper set of social and political dynamics. On the one hand, the conjunction of Facebook and the UN around a right to the internet shows the way in which the idea of a networked world has penetrated our thinking of contemporary global life. Life itself is no longer understood as individual, but rather as a constellation of relations. While relations with others have always been important, rights have generally been possessed by individuals thought of as single autonomous units of social and political life. However, the right to the internet reveals a different model of social and political life. Instead of individuals, we are nodes in networks (both physical and virtual – wires and relationships). Indeed, we can only achieve our full potential by connecting, that is by abandoning the idea of an autonomous individual and becoming enmeshed in the network.

As I have written elsewhere, in a networked world we cannot avoid being exposed virtually and physically: we are exposed to ideas and relationships; and we are exposed to a dependence on connecting infrastructures. Our life is characterised by being able to expose ourselves; to withdraw from exposure is to have no life at all. And yet there is little discussion of the politics of this exposure.

You can read the full piece here:

Syria: Why those who think UK vote against action appeases Assad are wrong

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Last night Defence Secretary Philip Hammond – fresh from seeing parliament refuse to grant the government a mandate to attack Syria – noted, with some frustration, that “Common sense must tell us that the Assad regime is going to be a little less uncomfortable tonight as a result of this decision in parliament“. This is a theme that has been repeated elsewhere

According to this perspective blocking military action will give succour to Assad and potentially emboldens those that would use Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) or commit crimes against humanity.

This seems to me to be a very partial reading of the outcome of last night’s vote. On twitter I have indicated that I think there are 4 points those arguing that a failure to authorise strikes on Syria are failing to acknowledge: