My first and most formative brain-crush, as well as my mentor and model for how to be an ethical scholar and generous colleague, has released an amazing new multimedia digital project with which we both urge you to spend some time. Called Precision Targets, in this piece Caren Kaplan examines the militarization of everyday life via spatializing information technologies:
My study of GPS in this era of seemingly endless war has led me to ask how “duel-use” technologies blur the distinction between military and civilian spheres. What are our expectations and assumptions about information technologies? How can we say “no” to war when we say “yes” to militarization every day? Precision Targets is designed to raise these questions and others as you move through the multimedia piece to engage the animated possibilities of GPS in everyday life.
This is not as far afield as you might think for a blog about the politics of dress and beauty. Both Minh-Ha and I have learned so much from Kaplan’s work over the years (me, since 1994 as an undergraduate women’s studies major) about how to “do” postcolonial studies of space and time, gender and empire. Minh-Ha’s writing on technologies of style and selfhood can trace at least part of its intellectual genealogy to Kaplan’s earlier publications on civilian consumption of military information technologies; my work on migrant medias and bodies (both corporeal and imaginary) and the politics and conditions of possibility for their movements across borders, owes so much to Kaplan’s generous mentoring over the years.
Minh-Ha and I agree that in this particular moment, during which war is normalized within everyday life under liberal democracy, and increasingly incorporated into the domains of politics and law (as we see with the last few decades’ “wars” on drugs and immigration, recently manifest as Arizona’s passage of SB 1070) as well as economics, art and culture (as we see in the periodic creep of “military chic,” the location of much of the garment manufacturing industries in postcolonial nations and semi-colonial territories, and the coextensive visual imaging of veiled women as criminal and as couture) that a critique of the militarization of everyday life is absolutely vital.