The British Academy Lecture, delivered by Professor Derek Gregory FBA, on 14 March 2012 (venue: The British Academy).
It has become commonplace to claim that contemporary wars are fought from a distance: the iconic version is the drone missions flown over Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere from the United States. Yet wars have been waged at a distance throughout history, and we need a surer sense of the historical curve through which military violence has shaped (and been shaped by) the friction of distance. But we also need a sharper calibration of war’s geography, including changes in military logistics and command and control systems, the transition from battlefields to battlespaces, the comingling of the military and the civilian, and the emergence of new media to convey the theatre of war to distant audiences. And yet for all these changes the ‘death of distance’ – and the distance of death – in today’s liquid world has been greatly exaggerated, and there remains a stark intimacy to many killing spaces that requires careful reflection.
About the speaker
Derek Gregory is Peter Wall Distinguished Professor at the University of British Columbia at Vancouver; he was previously University Lecturer in Geography at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College. He was awarded the Founder’s Medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 2006. He is the author of Geographical imaginations, The Colonial Present: Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq, and is presently completing a new book, The everywhere war. His current research focuses on political and cultural histories/geographies of bombing.