A Field Guide To Military Urbanism

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“I mean, when you’re forced to smuggle, by sheer necessity of survival, due to forces completely outside of your own control, when the power to decide your own destiny has been taken from you (as a nation), can it really be called smuggling anymore? Further, can smuggling really be considered an illegal or illicit act in this case? The very use of the word here to me seems to play into the feral-ization, if you will, of the Gazan people – it helps portray them as uncivilized subversives and criminal traders.”

One of the more interesting blogs you’ll ever read, Bryan Finoki’s Subtopia: A Field Guide To Military Urbanism has been recently talking about attempts to rebuild Gaza using mud from so-called Gazan “smuggler’s tunnels.”

The use of mud in the reconstruction, argues Finoki comes about largely “due to Israel’s refusal to allow the most basic of needed supplies like concrete, steel, and even glass to enter into the strip at all claiming those materials would only serve Hamas’ efforts to rekindle its armament and offensive capabilities.”

Subtopia seems to focus on the military, political and diplomatic uses of space, especially when it’s used in incarceral and judicial constructs. The strategic architectures of torture, war, weaponry, imprisonment and borders is explored in depth, often with striking photographs. For a first-world citizen like me who lives in San Francisco, seeing and reading about the implements of abatement and coercion is truly eye-opening.

This is truly a one-of-a-kind site worth getting lost in. Where else but Subtopia can you read about floating prisons, the panopticon arcade, Christmas Island, or suicidal urbanism?


Michael Berger is a barely-published writer and book-seller living in San Francisco. He is one of the founding Corsairs of the Iron Garters Bike Club and is currently pursuing a degree in applied pataphysics. He sometimes eats oatmeal for dinner. More from this author →