Mobility as Speculative Technics of Survivable Architectures

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


This paper aims at investigating how military imaginaries of survivable mobility inform the abstraction of landscapes and the design of vehicular technologies. It addresses the technical and the environmental by drawing on Science and Technology Studies (Latour, Akrich, Callon, Law) and the philosophy of technology of Gilbert Simondon, offering a critique of militarization upon tracing its extended sociotechnical networks. The inquiry follows the design of MRAP-type vehicles employed during the U.S. military’s protracted occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan for concerns of survivability. Through an STS- and ANT-inspired methodology, we trace how architectural and land relations are inscribed in the processes of engineering and testing these vehicles contingent on breakdown against Afghanistan’s rugged landscape, what the military translates as irregular topography, primitive road geometry, boggy materials, and agricultural forms. The paper advances an architectural conception of the MRAP as an enclosed atmospheric capsule that privileges the survival of specific bodies. This capsule, we argue, translates terrain through technics of survivability and enrolls active bodies in protective envelopes across networks of simulation and training, which we can read through an “architectural” (after Yaneva, 2010) lens across the ground as “technical lands” (after Galison, 2017). We trace breakdown stories of rollover, drowning, and bodily traumas as documented in utility patents (shock-absorbing underbelly, blast attenuation seats) military publications (user handbook, medical report, testing standards and procedures), and commercial brochures (driver assist, electronic stability). The paper seeks to expand on notions of land, site, terrain, and the architectural in STS and transdisciplinary studies of space.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2020
EventEASST+4S Joint Conference Prague 2020 | Locating and Timing Matters: Significance and Agency of STS in Emerging Worlds - Online/Virtual, Prague, Czech Republic
Event duration: 18 Aug 202021 Aug 2020


ConferenceEASST+4S Joint Conference Prague 2020 | Locating and Timing Matters
Abbreviated titleLocating and Timing Matters
Country/TerritoryCzech Republic
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