What brings together a military vehicle (like the MRAP), the streets of Iraq, and U.S. highways, in addition to the discernible violence of warfare? How can military technology travel in peacetime in urban spaces? How is the dialogue of STS and urbanism helping us understand these connections?
The paper demonstrates how Akrich and Latour’s semiotics (1992) can be relevant for research on cities, infrastructure, and technology. It draws in particular on the concept of ‘script’ with its multiple performative modalities (in-scribe/de-scribe), Latour’s ‘sociology of associations’ (2005), and Yaneva’s concepts of architectural and urbanely associations (2017). Through a sociotechnical analysis, the paper demonstrates how military vehicles bring together humans, terrain, space, and technical objects. It argues for a different understanding of the urban while unpacking the technical mediation inscribed in specialized military documents from electrocution breakdown in Iraq to the dominance of transportation regulations in the United States. The concept of ‘the urban’ as a noun, signifying established relations of production, is replaced here by a process for assembling spatio-temporal landscapes performed by military technologies. This is also an opportunity to rethink military mobility and survivability through the dynamic urbanely associations they offer.
The proposed lens offers a realist reading of militarization as an ‘actualization’ (after Deleuze and Guattari 1987) of urbanely landscapes. The ambition is to replace a grand narrative of militarization. Following Stengers (2005), this realist approach expands the ‘ecology of practice’ to the field of militarization and offers an STS-informed perspective on urban futures beyond the dominant discourses on smart cities, planetary urbanization, and anti-militarization.