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Wes Attewell
Liu Scholar; PhD Candidate, Geography

Wes is a PhD Candidate in Human Geography. He is broadly interested in exploring the re-discovery of development as a form of counterinsurgency in this post 9/11 age of global war and terror.  His work is interdisciplinary, drawing inspiration from human geography, security studies, post-colonial and post-structuralist theory, and feminist scholarship.  His dissertation will critically interrogate the gradual militarization of the “jihad” that has been waged upon poppy cultivation in rural Afghanistan since the inception of Operation Enduring Freedom.  It asks:  how has this “jihad” mangled the two circuits of capital and commodity production – the black markets and criminal networks that make up Mary Kaldor’s “global war economy” on the one hand, the contemporary permutations of Dwight E. Eisenhower’s “military-industrial-complex” on the other – that are most commonly understood to undergird the waging of late modern warfare?  In order to answer this question, it will foreground the current Obama administration’s highly public (re)discovery of so-called “alternative development” as the most effective “non-kinetic” solution to Afghanistan’s seemingly recalcitrant “poppy problem”:  a shift in counternarcotics strategy that effectively led an assemblage of government agencies, private contractors, provincial reconstruction teams, military units, and non-governmental organizations to assume a leading role in the “jihad” on Afghanistan’s narco-economy.  Specifically, it is the alternative development work that is being prosecuted in Afghanistan’s poppy cultivating regions by the U.S. Agency for International Development and its implementing partners that will make up the empirical centrepiece of this dissertation.

Wes has also contributed to the geographical literature on the contemporary politics of new media.  He is specifically interested in thinking through the ways in which new media has assumed a new significance in what Derek Gregory calls “the colonial present”. 

Wes received a BA (Honours) and an MA in Human Geography from the University of British Columbia.  His program of research is funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada 3-year Joseph-Armand Bombardier Scholarships Program Doctoral Fellowship.


Attewell, Wesley. 2011. “‘Every Iraqi’s Nightmare’:  Blogging Peace in Occupied Baghdad”. Antipode. Article first published online: 26 July, 2011.
Attewell, Wesley. 2012. “‘I hope he dies’ – On WikiLeaks as a threat to human life”. Geopolitics. In process.

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