Germany Visits South Lake Union

Originally posted on The Northwest Urbanist:


Last week I led a tour of students and professors from the University of Munich’s Department of Geography through South Lake Union (SLU) . It was a great experience for me, as I’ve never done anything like it, and the German group got to see the city’s most rapidly evolving neighborhood. Their primary studies are in the economics of geographic tourism, but among the mix of undergraduate and graduate students some were more interested in ecological design, urban planning, or related subjects. In our brief walk through the neighborhood we also had an enlightening discussion about the differences between American and European cities and culture.

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Militarization of U.S. police forces in Ferguson and beyond – LINKS

Keith Harris:

although my interests in war machines haven’t been quite this literal i can’t help but pay attention to this. i’m reminded of Eugene Holland’s conceptualization of the contemporary American state as oscillating between neo-Despotic (under George W. Bush) and neo-Liberal (under Clinton, and not to be confused w/ neoliberalism): the former is Varuna, the latter is Mitra. i recently read Dumézil’s Mitra-Varuna to try and understand this oscillation; my notes:
Varuna is the “binder” and expresses the fearful aspects of political sovereignty: he is the terrible, tyrannical, magical and omnipresent deity with “immediate prehension and action everywhere and over everything” (Dumézil 1988, 67); he corresponds to night, poorly executed sacrifice, otherworldliness, roasting food over flames, intoxicating drinks…in short, “the sovereign under his attacking aspect” (Dumézil 1988, 72). Mitra, by contrast, is the “organizer,” the god of the daytime, rewards for proper sacrifice, the human world, cooking with steam, and milk: “the sovereign under his reasoning aspect, luminous, ordered, calm, benevolent, priestly” (ibid).
how then do we conceptualize the current regime, which seems to be doing both of these things at once? is the oscillation speeding up like everything else?

Originally posted on Understanding Empire:

Military Equipment for U.S. policeImage: NYT

Amongst the on-going riots, a number of news outlets have covered the militarization of U.S. police forces in Missouri and elsewhere. Since the 1990s, the Pentagon has funnelled surplus military equipment to law enforcement agencies to the tune of more than $4.3 billion. This cache, administered under the “1033 Program” by the Defense Department’s Law Enforcement Support Office, includes everything from assault weapons to tactical armored vehicles. According to the original 1990 piece of legislation, in the 1990 National Defense Authorization Act, the goal was to combat drug barons and cartels in counter-narcotic operations.

Going well beyond the parameters of “crowd control”, such violent implements lend credence to the notion that U.S. streets are becoming a “battlefield”–although this should be tempered by the reality that power is overwhelmingly one-sided.

Recent News Articles on Military Policing

  1. How the rest of the world views the riots (WP, 19th August, 2014)

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Three Crises: 30s-70s-Today Brian Holmes

Keith Harris:


Originally posted on synthetic_zero:

“CONCEPT: The development of capitalism is marked, every thirty or forty years, by the eruption of extended economic crises that restructure the entire system in organizational, technological, financial and geopolitical terms, while affecting daily life and commonly held values and attitudes. In the course of these crises, conditions of exploitation and domination are challenged by grassroots and anti-systemic movements, with major opportunities for positive change. However, each historical crisis so far has also elicited an elite response, stabilizing the worldwide capitalist system on the basis of a new integration/repression of classes, interest groups, genders and minority populations (whose definition, composition and character also change with the times). In the United States, because of its leading position within twentieth-century capitalism, the domestic resolution of each of the previous two crises has helped to restructure not only national social relations, but also the international political-economic order. Nothing ensures that the same thing…

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…you find exactly what you’re looking for.

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Posthegemony in Peru

Keith Harris:

en espanol

Originally posted on Posthegemony:

I was fortunate a few weeks ago to be able to present my book at a “Mesa Verde” at the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos in Lima.  Guillermo Rochabrún and Juan Carlos Ubilluz provided stimulating comments, and there was a spirited discussion session at the end.  Herewith, the video of the event.  Many thanks to Patricia Ames for moderating and making it possible.

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Clastres’s Wisdom

“[H]ow, indeed, could one Christianize, civilize or convince people of the virtues of work and commerce, when they were primarily concerned with warring against their neighbors, avenging defeats or celebrating victories?” (Archeology of Violence, 239).

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Pierre Clastres/Paul Auster

To learn that one of my favorite novelists translated a book by an anthropologist who I am just now exploring and finding to be fascinating makes my day…I am looking forward to reading this translator’s preface.


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