ABSTRACT

A few years ago, in an essay engaging critical geography, I explored the tendency or preoccupation among the geopoliticians and military geostrategists of the War on Terror with “unveiling” the supposedly obscure battleground of the northwestern borderland of Pakistan. 1 I pointed out how the preoccupation with unveiling the borderland led to the deployment of new military technology, cartographic practices, and cultural quantitative analysis on the basis of visual data, which, while giving a strategic advantage over the adversary, took the obscurity of the borderland to another level—the digital–technological level. More importantly, I argued that geopoliticians and military geostrategists were indirectly engaged in building an imaginative geopolitical representation of the borderland. In order to critically analyse their endeavours, I engaged Michael J. Shapiro’s concept of a violent cartography. The concept explains how geopolitical and geostrategic representations of a given space were/are basically “historically developed, socially embedded interpretations of identity and space,” and hence are “based on models of identity-difference.” 2 In light of this concept, I highlighted the implications of employing geopolitical cartographic practices based on an identity-difference framing. Here, in the present essay, I want to further extend my analysis to security practices that involve the use of lethal force sanctioned by law, which create a legal regime of security derogatory to human rights on the borderland. In other words, I pursue the concept of violent cartography, along with certain other concepts—especially structural violence and necrobiography—to present a critical analysis of the legally embedded interpretations of identity and place on the border.