Circulatory life: 9/11 as architectural catastrophe and the hypermodernity of Terror

Julian Reid

in The Biopolitics of the War on Terror

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print December 2006 | ISBN: 9780719074059
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701676 | DOI:
Circulatory life: 9/11 as architectural catastrophe and the hypermodernity of Terror

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This chapter develops an account of the significance of the 9/11 attack understood in explicitly architectural terms. It focuses on the critique of the bias toward orthogonal and vertical forms in architecture developed by Paul Virilio. It is argued that that to interpret the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001 in architectural terms is to challenge prevailing understandings of its significance and symbolic value. An attack, which liberal critics such as Elshtain argue to have been perpetrated by individuals incapable of humanity, becomes recontextualised as an attack upon a building which symbolised the artificiality and violence of the liberal ideal of human life. Yet this artificiality was disclosed to us not for the first time in the violence of the Terror attack of 9/11. Authors such as Virilio have been arguing it to be the case for many years, and his interventions in debates on architecture have acted to make us think more critically about the ways our experience of life and our relations with others are conditioned by such peculiar spatial forms.

Keywords: 9/11; architecture; Paul Virilio; liberal regimes; biopolitics; city spaces

Chapter.  10264 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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