Conference Paper
Pax Americana: Landscapes of the American Pursuit of Peace

Does peace have a lasting effect on cities? There has long been a scholarly as well as a projective literature on the militarism of cities. The Renaissance treatise, for example, advocated for new spatial relations with the advent of gunpowder in Europe. More recently, security consultants and defense contractors have promised to contain militancy and the feeling of terror through a paranoid regime of surveillance. But what of peace? Do memorials of peace movements, love-ins and other non-violent forms of political engagement reshape our understanding of the city? World’s fairs, those crucibles of urban design innovation, were ostensibly meant to promote peace—at least through a regime of (free) trade. Yet, the assessment of these fairs has tended to be negative and there are few cities that have retained the layout and facilities of these fairs. Where international congregational spaces have become permanent features of the metropolitan landscape, such as the United Nations in New York or any one of the Olympic villages, the complaint tends to be that these spaces are remote and cost the general public far too much. It would appear that we have a more developed vocabulary to describe and criticize war memorials, fallout shelters and military bases than we have to evaluate the infrastructure of peace. This panel proposes to address this lacuna through three papers on how the pursuit of peace has produced ways of looking at and inhabiting the city. The papers interpret the ‘American pursuit of peace’ to include the impact of governmental and non-governmental efforts outside the US. Indeed, the Latinate PAX AMERICANA is meant to conjure the specter of US imperialism, at home and abroad, and to invite consideration of how relations of power and forms of dominance are constructed through a language of peace.

Title
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsBanerji S
Conference Name15th National Conference on Planning History
Date Published10/2013
PublisherSACRPH
Conference LocationToronto, CANADA
Abstract

Does peace have a lasting effect on cities? There has long been a scholarly as well as a projective literature on the militarism of cities. The Renaissance treatise, for example, advocated for new spatial relations with the advent of gunpowder in Europe. More recently, security consultants and defense contractors have promised to contain militancy and the feeling of terror through a paranoid regime of surveillance. But what of peace? Do memorials of peace movements, love-ins and other non-violent forms of political engagement reshape our understanding of the city? World’s fairs, those crucibles of urban design innovation, were ostensibly meant to promote peace—at least through a regime of (free) trade. Yet, the assessment of these fairs has tended to be negative and there are few cities that have retained the layout and facilities of these fairs. Where international congregational spaces have become permanent features of the metropolitan landscape, such as the United Nations in New York or any one of the Olympic villages, the complaint tends to be that these spaces are remote and cost the general public far too much. It would appear that we have a more developed vocabulary to describe and criticize war memorials, fallout shelters and military bases than we have to evaluate the infrastructure of peace. This panel proposes to address this lacuna through three papers on how the pursuit of peace has produced ways of looking at and inhabiting the city. The papers interpret the ‘American pursuit of peace’ to include the impact of governmental and non-governmental efforts outside the US. Indeed, the Latinate PAX AMERICANA is meant to conjure the specter of US imperialism, at home and abroad, and to invite consideration of how relations of power and forms of dominance are constructed through a language of peace.