The meaning of light: seeing and being on the battlefield

Philippa Thornton

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On the battlefield, light and dark mean much more than the (dis)ability to see. While the darkness of night-time can be used as a tactic, providing cover for personal and territorial defence and attack, it also affects and secures bodies and the spaces they inhabit in other more immediate and intimate ways, recalibrating senses and redefining distance. Light too can spell both safety and danger on the battlefield, disciplining and controlling its occupants with often asymmetrical power-plays of affect and aggression. Using autoethnographic examples of experiences in Iraq in 2003 (based on the poem below), this article sets out to challenge traditional binaries of light/dark, good/bad and to question the elemental, cultural and technological sovereignty of light and vision in modern battlespaces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-583
Number of pages17
JournalCultural Geographies
Issue number4
Early online date30 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015

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