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Outlaw Territories - Environments of Insecurity/Architectures of Counterinsurgency

Revisiting an era when the discipline of architecture staked out a role in global environmental governance and the biopolitical management of populations. In Outlaw Territories, Felicity Scott traces the relation of architecture and urbanism to human unsettlement and territorial insecurity during the 1960s and 1970s. Investigating a set of responses to the growing urban unrest in the developed and developing worlds, Scott revisits an era when the discipline of architecture staked out a role in global environmental governance and the biopolitical management of populations. She describes architecture's response to the displacement of persons brought on by migration, urbanization, environmental catastrophe, and warfare, and she traces architecture's relationship to the material, environmental, psychological, and geopolitical transformations brought on by postindustrial technologies and neoliberal capitalism after World War II. At the height of the U.S.-led war in Vietnam and Cambodia, with ongoing decolonization struggles in many parts of the world, architecture not only emerged as a target of political agitation because of its inherent normativity but also became heavily enmeshed with military, legal, and humanitarian apparatuses, participating in scientific and technological research dedicated to questions of international management and security. Once architecture became aligned with a global matrix of forces concerned with the environment, economic development, migration, genocide, and war, its role shifted at times toward providing strategic expertise for institutions born of neoliberal capitalism. Scott investigates this nexus and questions how and to what ends architecture and the environment came to be intimately connected to the expanded exercise of power within the shifting geopolitical frameworks at this time.
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Outlaw Territories mines architectural history to generate a new sensibility and inaugurate a necessary field of practice that might be called 'the architecture of the earth.' Felicity Scott redefines architecture's task as the entanglement of politics and the environment on multiple scales: from ecological experimentation on the scale of buildings she moves on to discuss the apartheid urbanisms of segregated cities, the 'human dumping grounds' of extraterritorial zones, the 'outlawed frontiers' of deserts, oceans and forests before helping us think architecture at the scale of the earth which alternately appears as a battle-zone, a construction site and a ruin. This book is a major contribution by one of the most creative, lucid and influential of today's architectural scholars. -- Eyal Weizman, Professor of Spatial and Visual Culture, Goldsmiths College, University of London, and author of Forensic Architecture and The Least of All Possible Evils In Scott's critically game-changing study, securitas -- a great political philology of the times that denotes the risk society as well as societies of care, of sovereign borders, of surveillant skies, and of fortress architecture -- is posed against outlaw territories and countercultural settlement movements in the wake of the Cold War. Scott gives us a way to think the politics of architecture as a new environmentality. Essential reading for anyone with activist stakes in the contemporary history of insurgent habitats and militarized space. -- Emily Apter, Professor of French and Comparative Literature, New York University, and author of Against World Literature: On the Politics of Untranslatability Like an antidote to amnesia, Scott's meticulous, granular research vividly recreates the political weather of the 1970s. Here is a sidelined architecture history that returns as a missing link -- eccentric stories in the emerging development of those networks, technologies, media, and advocacies of global governance that are of most consequence today. The episodes in Outlaw Territories, laced with issues of militarism, security, and environment, are rehearsals for urgent spatial activism in the present. -- Keller Easterling, Professor, Yale University, and author of Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space

About the Author

Felicity D. Scott is Associate Professor of Architecture at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, where she directs the PhD program in architecture and codirects the program in Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices in Architecture. She is the author of Architecture or Techno-utopia: Politics after Modernism (MIT Press).


Scott's book offers hope that we, as designers, are not bound to reproducing the status quo, but have the potential to serve discordant voices and rebel aspirations. By lifting the veil of exceptionality under which outlaw territories remain confined, we can reinvest these spaces with the new norms of civility and justice that they deserve. * Harvard Design Magazine * [Scott's] new book on architecture and the exercise of biopolitical power in the era of decolonization is excellent, extensive, and indeed urgent -- given the vast human unsettlement of our own moment, coming to terms with its longer history is essential for thinking about how architecture might respond to social questions on a territorial scale. -- James Graham * Metropolis Magazine *

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