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LAND OF WAR THE BEGINNING(2021)


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LAND OF WAR THE BEGINNING(2021)


Featuring interviews with prominent contemporary artists working in the landscape photography tradition, the catalogue, from the acclaimed "Devour the Land" exhibition at the Harvard Art Museums, presents a lively range of voices at the intersection of art, environmentalism, militarism, photography, and politics, and traces the impacts of militarism on the American terrain.


As it became clearer that an invasion was imminent, many Ukrainian civilians began training to defend their homeland, while thousands of others were forced to evacuate.Vadim Ghirda and Emilio Morenatti/AP Photos


Ukrainians, having tasted victory on the battlefield and united in their desire for justice and revenge, cannot accept a land-for-peace compromise. For Putin, whose war it is primarily, compromise is not an option after the humiliation of the failed campaign in pursuit of his maximalist objectives. This war was not existential for him when he began it, but it is now. He has staked his entire presidency on it and must win it. He is preparing for a long war.


That leaves the United States and its allies without any good options as the war enters its second year, except to ramp up military support and hope for the best. It is not morally right to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian, but it is not right either to dictate to Ukrainians what they should settle for in their just war. A land-for-peace compromise is not an option for them, especially since it is unlikely to bring them the kind of stable, durable peace they need and deserve. They would live under a constant threat of renewed Russian aggression.


War may not be on the rocks, but it is frequently over rocks. Land, to be exact. From the recent war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, to concerns that Russia is preparing to launch an invasion to conquer Eastern Ukraine, war is frequently, if not always, over land.


Political geographers emphasize that the idea of territory should not be conflated with just land. The meaning needs to be considered more deeply. Political actors, such as states, define their ownership of a place as a means of asserting influence. Hence, it is the need to assert influence over others, not the land itself, that drives conflict


If possible, states will avoid militarization all together in order to acquire disputed territory. Though former President Donald Trump was widely lampooned for suggesting that the United States buy Greenland from Denmark, the truth is that land purchases were not uncommon for much of history. The Louisiana Purchase and the acquisition of Alaska are just two examples familiar to most Americans. Land purchases by states are still done today, though the practice is less frequent and the tracts of land are much smaller.


All of this suggests that the future will largely resemble the past: Territory will remain valuable, states will seek to acquire it, and conflicts will inevitably arise. The consequence is that war, particularly over land, is here to stay.


Changing Land is a fascinating study of class, gender, social and political reform, and the diaspora during the Land War in nineteenth-century Ireland. It argues convincingly that the land war was part of a wider ideological moment in world history and that social activism should be accorded attention equal to the political perspective, in the nationalist narrative. It is a fine exemplar of how to take an integrated approach to the history of Ireland and that of its geographically widespread diaspora. Based on hitherto unseen primary sources, this book offers an innovative and significant contribution to the received historical narrative of the land war in Ireland and within the diaspora, as well as inserting Ireland into the history of international radicalism.


An outstanding work, meticulously researched, lucidly written, and conceptually sophisticated. Changing Land promises to be one of the most exciting books published on Irish history this year. Whelehan is an




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