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We are a working group of scholars at UC Davis that emerged as a response to burgeoning forms of military power. By militarization, we mean both military interventions and the securitization of everyday life. To this end we pursue research that foregrounds the production of subjects under practices of militarization, the technologies that facilitate surveillance and state power, and the contestations to such forms of violence. The group creates an interdisciplinary space where all the various cultural and social implications of contemporary militarization can be considered, discussed, and held accountable.

Some of our reading activities are generously funded by the Davis Humanities Institute. In past years, the group has been supported by various grants from DHI and the UC Humanities Research Institute, Irvine. Since 2018, we have had a fruitful “collaboratory” partnering with scholars at the University of Sydney (Aus) and inviting various collaborators from the University of California system, independent artists and activists, and scholars from around the world: Everyday Militarisms. We received generous grants for this partnership from the UCD Office of Research, DHI, and UCHRI.

In addition, the group collaborates on periodic projects with scholars and artists in the University of California system, other universities, and independent of academia. We also collaborate with programs and departments to organize guest lectures and panels.

Please contact us if you have any ideas! Email — Javier Arbona: jarbona [at] ucdavis [dot] edu


What We Study

The new forms of military and police power that are emerging in an era of transnational economies and cultures require fresh, interdisciplinary avenues of research and analysis. This new approach includes examining both the overt ways through which nation-states demand adherence to war projects and regimes of security, and the more subtle processes that “normalize” and mask military logics and technologies as everyday labor and leisure practices, e.g., the legal regulation of emergent technologies and devices that shape cultural expectation.

Calling attention to the ways in which the institutionalization of gender, sexuality, and ethnic studies remains embedded in the complex relationship between the university and the military-industrial-entertainment complex, our research group explores the unexpected entanglements between national military projects and our affective lives, erotic encounters, kinship formations, technologic expectations, and rights as civilians and citizens.

We are interested in deconstructing the division between national and international, or the home and the war “fronts,” in the production of environmental hazards, racialized policing, practices of incarceration, and legacies of colonial occupation. We experience this process of militarization on everyday levels: it informs and defines our access to spaces and networks. Militarization has also conditioned the way we think about movement across borders and boundaries that demarcate political spaces.

+ See Also: 

Everyday Militarisms: Hidden in Plain Sight / Site forum, Society and Space

Transnational Feminist Practices Against War, Meridians Journal

History and People

The Critical Militarization, Policing, and Security Studies research group began formally in 2008 when Caren Kaplan and Fran Dyson received a small grant from the UCD Consortium for Women and Research (CRW) for a research interest group (RIG) on “Gender and Militarization.” In addition to the RIG, a Davis Humanities Institute (DHI) research cluster on “Militarization Studies” convened in 2011. Participants in both groups overlapped and resources were often pooled until the two groups merged in 2012. The continuing faculty coordinator for both groups (following Fran Dyson’s departure from UCD) was Caren Kaplan (TalkBits on Civil War podcast @ UCHRI).

Founding graduate student participants included Tallie Ben Daniel, Hilary Berwick, Abigail Boggs, Ben D’Harlingue, Tom Galaraga, and Liz Montegary. Other key graduate student participants have included Omar Abdullah, Rusty Bartels, Trisha Barua, Toby Beauchamp, Xan Chacko, Reema Cherian, Gabi Kirk, Andrea Miller, Robert Moeller, Diana Pardo Pedraza, Terry Park, Toby Smith, Scott Tsuchitani, and Mayee Wong. Founding faculty participants included Jaimey Fisher, Caren Kaplan and Colin Milburn. Other key faculty and postdoc participants have included Javier Arbona, Marisol de la Cadena, Christina Cogdell, Ofelia Cuevas, Lindsey Dillon, Hsuan Hsu, Rana Jaleel, Sunaina Maira, Flagg Miller, Anjali Nath, Kris Ravetto-Biagioli, Tamara Spira, Julie Sze, and Chunjie Zhang.

In 2015, the group expanded its name to better reflect the group’s research agenda and cluster of interests.

Now constituted as Critical Militarization, Policing, and Security Studies (CRTMIL), the group welcomes students and faculty from UC Davis as well as other campuses to explore interdisciplinary approaches to military cultures and politics.

Conferences or discrete working groups we have sponsored or co-sponsored:

“Everyday Militarization: New Zones of Empire.” Oct. 24, 2008. International conference organized by Caren Kaplan (UCD) and Minoo Moallem (UCB) with funding from UCHRI and the two campuses. Speakers: Aaron Belkin (UCSB), Toby Beauchamp (UCD), Deborah Cowen (U Toronto), Jordan Crandall (UCSD), Inderpal Grewal (Yale), Vivienne Jabri (King’s College), Amy Kaplan (U Penn), Caren Kaplan (UCD), Gada Mahrouse (Concordia), Minoo Moallem (UCB), Liz Montegary (UCD), Jasbir Puar (Rutgers), Amit Rai (Florida State), and Jennifer Terry (UCI).

“Cultures of Militarization.” Academic year 2011-12. UCHRI Working Group convened by Caren Kaplan. Participants met in two day-long meetings; one at UC Davis and one at UC San Diego. Participants: Paul Amar (UCSB), Toby Beauchamp (UCSD), Kelly Gates (UCSD), Caren Kaplan (UCD), Peter Limbrick, (UCSC), Colin Milburn (UCD), Minoo Moallem (UCB), and Jennifer Terry (UCI). see related forum organized by Deborah Cowen in Society and Space

“Queer (In)Securities.”  May 3-4, 2012. National graduate student conference organized by the Militarization Studies and the Queer, Feminist, and Transgender Studies research clusters. Keynote speakers: Liz Montegary (SUNY Stony Brook) and Elizabeth Povinelli (Columbia).

“Sensing the Long War: Sites, Signals, and Sounds.” Nov. 8, 2013. One-day colloquium organized by Caren Kaplan. Speakers: Flagg Miller (UCD), Anjali Nath (UCD), Lisa Parks (UCSB), Kris Ravetto-Biagioli (UCD), and Rebecca Stein (Duke).

“Eyes in the Skies: Drones and the Politics of Distance Warfare.” April 5, 2016. Conference organized by Caren Kaplan with support from the Mellon Sawyer Seminar on Surveillance Democracies and the Mellon Initiative in Digital Cultures. Speakers: Derek Gregory (Univ. British Columbia), Joseph DeLappe (Univ. Of Nevada), Colin Johnson (UCD), Caren Kaplan (UCD), Andrea Miller (UCD), Joseph Pierce (web designer), Amanda Phillips (UCD), and Priya Satia (Stanford).

Over the years, the group has sponsored or co-sponsored many individual talks from visiting scholars, UCD faculty and graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars including:

Christine Ahn, Javier Arbona, Hilary Berwick, Ryan Bishop, Simone Browne, Rey Chow, Deborah Cowen, Jordan Crandall, Elizabeth DeLoughrey, Lindsey Dillon, Mary Favret, Vernadette Vicuna Gonzalez, Jennifer Greenburg, Inderpal Grewal, Roberto González, Caren Kaplan, Shiloh Krupar, Gada Mahrouse, Colin Milburn, Flagg Miller, Minoo Moallem, Anjali Nath, Trevor Paglen, Terry Park, John Phillips, Todd Presner, Parama Roy, Lynne Sachs, David Serlin, Sima Shakhsari, Hannah Rose Shell, Rebecca Stein, Diana Taylor, and Jennifer Terry .

The group organizes semi-regular meetings to discuss readings or work in progress. 


A representative (though not necessarily exhaustive) bibliography of readings we’ve dedicated discussion sessions to in recent years…

Amoore, Louise. The Politics of Possibility: Risk and Security Beyond Probability. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013.

Browne, Simone. “Everybody’s got a little light under the sun: Black luminosity and the visual culture of surveillance.” Cultural Studies 26, no. 4 (2012): 542-564.

Cowen, Deborah. The Deadly Life of Logistics: Mapping Violence in Global Trade. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014.

DeLoughrey, Elizabeth. “Radiation Ecologies and the Wars of Light.” MFS Modern Fiction Studies 55, no. 3 (2009): 468-498.

Duffield, Mark. “Total war as environmental terror: Linking liberalism, resilience, and the bunker.” South Atlantic Quarterly 110, no. 3 (2011): 757-769.

Easterling, Keller. Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space. Verso Books, 2014.

González, Roberto J. American Counterinsurgency: Human Science and the Human Terrain. Vol. 34. Prickly Paradigm, 2009.

Greenburg, Jennifer. “The” Strong Arm” and the” Friendly Hand”: Military Humanitarianism in Post-earthquake Haiti.” Journal of Haitian Studies 19, no. 1 (2013): 95-122.

Jarmakani, Amira. An Imperialist Love Story: Desert Romances and the War on Terror. NY: New York University Press, 2015.

Khalili, Laleh. Time in the Shadows: Confinement in Counterinsurgencies. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013.

Paik, A. Naomi. “Carceral Quarantine at Guantánamo: Legacies of US Imprisonment of Haitian Refugees, 1991–1994,” Radical History Review, Issue 115, Winter 2013: 142-168.

Said, Wadie. Crimes of Terror: The Legal and Political Implications of Federal Terrorism Prosecutions. NY: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Scott, Felicity. Outlaw Territories: Environments of Insecurity/Architectures of Counterinsurgency. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2016.

Tawil-Souri, Helga and Dina Matar, eds., Gaza as Metaphor,  London: Hurst, 2016.

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