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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Embodying Vertical Geopolitics: Towards a political geography of falling  Seminar

25 February 2021
Via Teams

Event details

Geography & Environmental Science Seminar

The emergence of air power in the 20th Century marked a new era of warfare. Speed, covertness, mobility, and verticality emerged as the buzzwords. In this talk, I examine experimental body-centred encounters with verticality during preparatory parachute training at Ringway Aerodrome 1940-1945. I trace how falling bodies encountered, were organised in, and harnessed space for air-led warfare and, by extension, how vertically moving bodies perform alternative geopolitical realities. First, the paper outlines a political geography of falling and calls for greater critical conceptual thinking on the micro-practices capable of exerting geopolitical influence. Second, I outline two design principles cultivated through military parachuting. Repetition and relationality advance theorisations of the organisation of aerial space, and affirm the entangled geographies of embodiment, verticality, and geopolitics. I draw upon the Royal Air Force’s practical airborne training programme as a means for enacting ‘high readiness, forced entry’ operations through the amalgamation of man, technological-non-human, and air.

Throughout the talk, I will argue for the achievement of air power and the performance of aerial supremacy through gravity and falling. This has important implications for unpacking the corporeal mobilities and training practices by which geopolitical realities are known, embodied, made, and articulated, and of the role of elite performances of aerial mobility in disrupting inter/national aerial sovereignty. 

Speaker Information

Dr Charlotte Veal, holds a 'Postdoctoral Fellowship in Landscape' in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University.

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