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America Town

America Town: Building the Outposts of Empire

Mark L. Gillem
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    America Town
    Book Description:

    In America Town, Mark L. Gillem reveals modern military outposts as key symbols of not just American power but also consumer consumption. Through case studies of several U.S. military facilities Gillem exposes these military installations as suburban culture replicated in the form of vast green lawns, three-car garages, and big-box stores and questions the impact of this practice on the rest of the world.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5436-9
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acronyms
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xx)

    “Can you drop 500 feet,” I asked the pilot.

    “Sorry, I can barely hear you,” came the muffled reply.

    After I adjusted my headset, I tried again. The helmet kept out some of the din, but I could still barely hear the pilot’s confirming response, “Okay, entering 2,500 feet.”

    I felt it, though. The drop and accompanying banking maneuver forced me against the seat. We had lifted off just after sunrise and were hovering near the Pacific coastline. A cerulean sky and still seas would greet the throngs of swimmers and boaters that usually played over the colorful coral reefs....

  6. PART I Empire’s Reach

    • CHAPTER ONE Empires across Time
      (pp. 3-15)

      How many empires have come and gone? How many people have lived under, fought for, or battled against empire? Every continent has endured the wrath of imperial might. Yet imperial power can liberate just as it can oppress. It can defend just as it can attack. For better or worse, the rise and demise of empire is the rule rather than the exception throughout history. To act, though, empires have required outposts beyond their homeland, places from which they could project their awesome, and frequently gruesome, power. These outposts have existed to support the implementation of power.

      Throughout recorded history,...

    • CHAPTER TWO Pax Americana: The “New” Empire
      (pp. 16-33)

      Reluctant. Incoherent. Arrogant. Benevolent. Informal. Invited. There are as many titles for today’s American Empire as there are scholars of empire. From all points on the political spectrum, there are copious attempts at defining the current phase of Pax Americana. Some terms, likeinvited empireandinformal empire, are the most absurd.¹ Suggesting that the Japanese, Germans, or Italians “invited” the United States into their homeland to establish hundreds of military bases seriously distorts the definition of “invitation.” Moreover, an empire built around detailed legal arrangements and systematic budget authorizations hardly qualifies as informal. The network of military bases that...

    • CHAPTER THREE Spillover: The U.S. Military’s Sociospatial Impact
      (pp. 34-70)

      I was just starting to doze off after a day of meetings at Kunsan Air Base in southwest South Korea. A gentle breeze from the Yellow Sea, which was less than a half-mile from my fourth-floor hotel room, kept the small, sparsely decorated space cool. Then, without warning, a piercing alarm broke through the calm evening. After the noise subsided, a loud voice from outside my window took over and announced in a slow, drawn-out monotone, “ALARM YELLOW; ENEMY AIRCRAFT EN ROUTE; PROTECT VITAL RESOURCES.”

      My heart skipped several beats and I jumped out of bed wondering what was going...

  7. PART II Familiarity on the Frontlines

    • CHAPTER FOUR Homeward Bound: Identity, Consumption, and Place
      (pp. 73-120)

      A few years ago, while sitting in a typical Burger King, with a view of the clogged drive-thru lane on one side and a mostly empty parking lot on the other, I had an enlightening conversation with a young woman. While her two children launched themselves into a big tub filled with colorful plastic balls, I asked her what she most liked about her neighborhood. Without hesitation, she said that the shopping mall, fast-food restaurants, and subdivisions felt like home. But she did not live in Colorado Springs or countless other stateside suburbias. She lived at Kadena Air Base in...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Ruling the World: Exporting Bureaucracy, Privatization, and Fear
      (pp. 121-170)

      Thousands of pages of rules govern planning and architectural practice on America’s outposts. These rules cover everything from the placement of signs to the length of runways. They dictate what is seen and what is unseen. While buildings, streets, and parking lots are the most visible manifestations, numerous policies place an imaginary architecture on, over, and under the landscape. Invisible lines that dictate building setbacks, height limits, and land-use zones structure the visible environment. These lines lead to familiar landscapes in unfamiliar lands.

      In this chapter, I examine some of the rules and practices that form the ordering schemata used...

  8. PART III Outposts under Construction

    • CHAPTER SIX Reinforcing the Southern Flank: Aviano 2000
      (pp. 173-200)

      On January 17, 1966, near Palomares, Spain, a USAF B-52 bomber collided at 30,500 feet with a KC-135 tanker aircraft during routine high-altitude refueling. The B-52 accidentally dropped four nuclear bombs; three landed near the town of Palomares and one landed in the ocean. Highexplosive material blew up and spread radioactive debris over 588 acres of farmland. Both planes crashed near the Spanish town, killing seven of the eleven crewmembers. It took eighty days to recover the nuclear bombs, which did not detonate. The United States also removed 1,400 tons of contaminated soil and vegetation from the site.¹

      On February...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Rewarding Realignment: South Korea’s Land Partnership Plan
      (pp. 201-231)

      On June 13, 2002, near Yangju, South Korea, Army Sergeant Mark Walker crushed two thirteen-year-old South Korean schoolgirls under his fiftyton armored vehicle while driving near the 38th parallel. Shim Mi-son and Shin Hyo-sun were walking to a birthday party on the side of a narrow country road when a U.S. convoy came rumbling by. Sergeant Walker claimed he could not see the girls or hear warnings in his headset due to radio interference. Army Specialist Joshua Ray blamed senior officers for requiring the convoy to use the narrow road rather than the nearby Munsan Bypass. “On those small roads...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Reacting to Rape: Japan’s Special Action Committee Okinawa
      (pp. 232-262)

      On September 4, 1995, in Okinawa, Japan, three U.S. Marines raped a twelve-year-old Japanese girl. In the trial’s first session in November 1995, the victim’s father said he wished he could kill the three Americans himself. The event brought U.S. and Japan relations to a post–World War II low—85,000 Okinawans rallied and demanded a U.S. withdrawal from Okinawa. Admiral Richard Macke publicly commented that the soldiers could have “had” a girl for the price of their rental car. A threejudge panel in Japanese court convicted all three Marines and sentenced them to seven years in Japanese prison; the...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 263-272)

    The first plane slammed into the North Tower at 8:46 A.M. The second plane struck the South Tower sixteen minutes later. Soon after, half a world away, military police began knocking on doors. “Get your family together, pack one bag for each person, and get on the bus,” one police officer told Sgt. Michael Nutter. He was living with his wife, In Suk, and their four sons in Air Force Village, a housing area about twenty minutes by foot from Osan Air Base in South Korea. “We’re moving you on the base.”¹ That morning, U.S. military police worldwide gave the...

  10. APPENDIX: On Methods
    (pp. 273-284)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 285-310)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 311-332)
  13. Index
    (pp. 333-350)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 351-351)