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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Geometry of empire: Radar as logistical medium
by Case, Judd Ammon, Ph.D., The University of Iowa, 2010, 302; 3409495
Abstract (Summary)

This study introduces logistical media and considers one example of such—radar. Innis (1972; 1951), Mumford (1970; 1934), Carey (1988), Virilio (1997; 1989; 1986) and others are discussed as preparing an understanding of logistical media as subtle but powerful devices of cognitive, social, and political coordination that affect our experience of time and space. Radar is presented as significant because of its progressive-catastrophic potential. Radar was invented for national defense and to remotely survey the earth and its atmosphere, but it also allows new collisions with “others.”

American radar was primarily developed at the Radiation Laboratory at MIT during the 1940s. Historical objects, principally from the MIT Radiation Laboratory Historian’s Office, are arranged and discussed according to Walter Benjamin’s (1999) historical method. Benjamin theorized that historical debris can be arranged as a dialectical image or constellation that can momentarily disrupt our sense of chronological progress and denaturalize ideology. Benjamin described this disruption as the interruption of the present with the now.

Radar is considered in terms of authoritarian modernity, and as contributing to a politics of distance, speed, angle, movement, and perception. Objects from radar history are marshaled to illuminate radar’s pre-history, its use of feedback to identify and coordinate objects, and its susceptibility to error and disruption. Present understandings of the 9/11 attacks are challenged by the now of these objects, and an understanding of logistical media is furthered.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Peters, John Durham
Commitee: Andrejevic, Mark, Hayes, Joy, McLeod, Kembrew, Merrill, Christopher
School: The University of Iowa
Department: Communication Studies
School Location: United States -- Iowa
Source: DAI-A 71/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Multimedia Communications, Science history, Mass communications, Military studies
Keywords: Benjamin, Walter, Cybernetics, Empire, Logistical medium, Logistics, Media, Radar, Virilio, Paul
Publication Number: 3409495
ISBN: 978-1-124-07060-5
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