Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)

The Deadly Life of Logistics: From Military Art to Corporate Science

Public Lecture by AISSR visiting scholar Deborah Cowen (University of Toronto), organized by programmegroup Moving Matters

06May2014 15:00 - 17:00


In the field of logistics, the work of militaries and markets has long been heavily entwined. But how did the ‘revolution in logistics’ – arguably the most understudied revolution of the 20th century - transform the nature of this intimate entanglement? How did this revolution, and the attendant rise of a ‘business science of logistics’, recast global trade and battle space?

This lecture tracks the recent life of logistics, from the biopolitics of the battlefield to the boardroom, and back again. It examines a series of key events - from the rise of petroleum warfare, to the birth of the modern supply chain, to the crisis of the ‘Somali pirate’- to highlight the ubiquity of logistics and the profound political, economic and martial transformations that remain hidden in plain sight.

Not simply a technocratic field of management, logistics is a highly political technoscience that governs the geopolitics of circulation, recasting state borders and blurring the boundaries of war.

About Deborah Cowen

Deborah Cowen is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Toronto. Her research explores the role of organized violence in shaping intimacy, space, and citizenship.

She is the author:

  • The Deadly Life of Logistics: Mapping Violence in Global Trade, the University of Minnesota Press (forthcoming)
  • Military Workfare: The Soldier and Social Citizenship in Canada
  • War, Citizenship, Territory (co-edited with Emily Gilber). 

Deborah has also been active in community-based research in Toronto addressing the racialization of suburban space and poverty. She is currently collaborating on a documentary and research project with the National Film Board of Canada’s HIGHRISE team, exploring vertical suburbs globally.

She is editor of the Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation book series at UGA Press, and of the journal Environment and Planning D: Society and Space.

Deborah Cowen's website at University of Toronto

Room F002

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    Oudemanhuispoort 4-6 | 1012 CN Amsterdam
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