I’ve just finished reading Reviel Netz’s, Barbed wire: an ecology of modernity (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2004). The book offers a detailed genealogy of this pain-inducing technology, from its initial use in the control of cattle in the American Midwest, to the control over people’s mobility in the South African Boer war, the Nazi concentration camps and the Russian Gulag. The book has strong credentials (endorsements by amongst others Bruno Latour) and has been widely discussed on the web: see here for an interview with the author in Cabinet Magazine, for example, and here for a review by Ian Hacking.
I decided to share my own thoughts on the book with you here.
It is worth mentioning a fascinating new project by Noam Leshem (Durham University) and Alasdair Pinkerton (Royal Holloway University of London), called Re-inhabiting No Man’s Land: from dead zones to living spaces.
The concept of the No Man’s Land is frequently related to the trenches of the First World War, which somehow dissolved the boundary between body and space – transforming the soldier into an integral part of a frontline ecology. In their concept paper the authors trace back the rich history of this spatial category, which typically indicates spaces that are anything but terra nullius. Instead they identify two constitutive forces that together produce the unique dynamics of no-man’s land: abandonment and enclosure.
Click here for a project overview and here for their concept paper (pdf).