Visualizing Zones of Occupation: Making Tangible the Violent Infrastructures in the Global Economy of Fear.

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Tauschinger-Dempsey, Michael


Seaman, Bill

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In our capitalist world-economy, fear has become the primary source material for wealth production. Fear underwrites regimes of limited access and various systems of occupation. Occupation as a strategic operational paradigm extends into civilian life of the dark and unresolved colonial, imperial and totalitarian legacies. The domestic and international exclusion of certain populations is grounded in age-old, mostly violent self/other distinctions that have been re-activated from their latent state and again made into viral political discourse material. An array of complex infrastructures, which include legal architectures and the built environment, have acquired operational importance. Such infrastructures are characterized by a built-in violence designed to control, contain, and redirect the massive population flows created by the globally destabilizing and denaturalizing affects of contemporary capital. Access to opportunity, vital resources, and security have become the crucial equity that populations compete for in the early 21st century. The very nature of capital has been transformed into actual economies of fear. Whereas parts of the world’s population will have the chance to live a dignified life, other parts will be indefinitely deprived of such fortunes and left to perish. The end result of such economies is the death-world.

The analysis proposed by this dissertation blurs the disciplinary boundaries between art, cultural anthropology, sociology, military history, economics, political science, psychology, architecture, urban studies, philosophy. This transdisciplinary methodology originates from the understanding that an effective critique of global capital as the dominant economic world-system can no longer be explained via a single knowledge field or academic specialty. Moving a step beyond interdisciplinary studies to bona fide informational crossovers between textual and visual archives allows for a more encompassing and thick investigation. The multi-sited approach of this study examines the visual traces found in the built environment and the controversial social realities expressed in current global geopolitics. The resulting synthesis between theory and practice offers new pathways for citizen participation and for potential solutions to collective grievances and global risks. This transdisciplinary approach gives art a leading role in establishing a new sense of place in which people are empowered to articulate their ideas—a new place built from a rehabilitated understanding of trust in self, trust in collective institutions, and trust in reality and truth. Above all, this new place holds the promise of a future worth living and fighting for.





Tauschinger-Dempsey, Michael (2017). Visualizing Zones of Occupation: Making Tangible the Violent Infrastructures in the Global Economy of Fear. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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