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Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details for Professor Ben Anderson

Anderson, B. Morale and the Affective Geographies of the 'War on Terror'. Cultural Geographies. 2010;17:219-236.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper focuses on the relations between affect and military and security geographies. It argues that recent work on spaces of affect and emotion should be supplemented by research on how affects are known, rendered actionable and intervened on. The paper exemplifies such a focus through an example of the targeting of amorphous collective affects — specifically morale and popular support — in the ‘effects based’ airpower that has been so central to the US led ‘war on terror’. Damaging or destroying morale has come to promise victory over a networked enemy. Yet morale is assumed to be distributed throughout life. As such, morale disappears as a definite, determinate, thing in itself. It cannot be fixed and located. Consequently, all of life is made into a potential target. To intervene on morale, airpower must create environments that will bring death and create life. The means for doing so are providential and catastrophic biopolitical ‘effects’, of which ‘shock’ and ‘awe’ are but the most high profile cases. Through the example of how morale is targeted, the paper shows how certain forms of power work by being both inside and outside the aleatory, indeterminate, dynamics of affective life.