University of Colorado at Boulder

Colloquia Event

Friday April 10, 2015. 03:30 pm. GUGG 205

Re-Inhabiting No-Man’s Land: From Dead Zones to Living Spaces

Noam Leshem

Department of Geography, Durham University

Abstract: Few spaces have come to emblemize the First World War as the No-Man’s Land. With its origins in medieval England to describe disputed territories between fiefdoms, ‘no-man’s land’ is now most readily associated with the materially decimated tract of earth that divided British and German trenches during the First World War. But the story of no-man’s land does not end in 1918. Mechanised war and subsequent ‘diplomatic’ resolutions have created a variety of no-man’s lands, from demilitarized zones to unclaimed border regions. Other areas have been condemned as no-man’s lands because of environmental disasters and ruination. The 30km exclusion zone around Chernobyl is perhaps the most obvious example, but evacuated mining towns in Australia and military sites in North America offer equally important insights into the production of such spaces.

This colloquium provides some insights into the intellectual history of no-man’s lands and explores their significance for political and social research. Drawing on research in Cyprus and Israel-Palestine, the paper proposes a conceptual framework that addresses the specific genealogies, agendas and intellectual import of no-man’s lands in the 21st century.