GREG BARTON /// “Islandization” of Military Bases: The Case of Diego Garcia Island


This conversation is an introduction to the research conducted by Greg Barton for his thesis at CCCP (Critical, Curatorial & Conceptual Practices) at Columbia University. This research is essentially focused on Diego Garcia island situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean, a territory that was never decolonized and remains under British sovereignty. The island hosts a US military basis that was used for its geographic location during the cold war, the first Gulf War, and now the so-called “war on terror.” Similarly to Guantanamo’s Camp Delta, a legal narrative had to be produced in order for the basis to operate and for the island to be evicted from its Mauritian inhabitants — the island remains disputed by Mauritius today. Our conversation also involves a discussion about the notion of territory: in the case of Diego Garcia, the territory can as much be appreciated for its actual geography as for its potentiality to acts as a military facilitator, through ranges of missiles or aircraft for instance. We end the conversation by observing the cartographic work that Greg did in relation to the politics of the island (see below).

Greg Barton is a researcher, curator, and amateur geographer. He holds a MS in Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices in Architecture from Columbia University where he co-organized the symposium “Discerning Fictions” (2013). His work focuses on museology, militarized architecture, and the spatial instruments of globalization. He has worked on projects and exhibitions for and along with a number of artists, architects, activists, and nonprofits, including institutions like the Storefront for Art and Architecture, New Museum, and Centre Georges Pompidou. His writing has appeared in journals such as Volume, 306090, and The StateSee his Funambulist contributor page.

– “Diego Garcia: A Militarized Island in the Indian Ocean,” in The Funambulist 9 (Jan-Feb 2017) Islands.


– Cartography of Diego Garcia Island:


-Pierre Bélanger and Alexander Scott Arroyo, “Logistics Islands: The Global Supply Archipelago and the Topologics of Defense,” Prism: Journal of the Center for Complex Operations 3:4 (2012)
-Neil Brenner and Stuart Elden, “Henri Lefebvre on State, Space, Territory,” International Political Sociology 3 (2009)
-James Corner, “The Agency of Mapping: Speculation, Critique and Invention,” in Dennis Cosgrove, ed., Mappings (Reaktion Books, 1999)
-Keller Easterling, “Zone: The Spatial Softwares of Extrastatecraft,” Design Observer (June 2012)
-Erik Swyngedouw, “Globalisation or ‘Glocalisation’? Networks, Territories and Rescaling,” Cambridge Review of International Affairs 17:1 (2004)
-Peter Sand “Diego Garcia: British–American Legal Black Hole in the Indian Ocean,” Journal of Environmental Law 21:1 (2009)
-Saskia Sassen, “Neither global nor national: novel assemblages of territory, authority and rights,” Ethics & Global Politics 1:1-2 (2008).
-Saskia Sassen, “When Territory Deborders Territoriality,” Territory, Politics, Governance, 1:1 (2013)
-Peter J. Taylor, “The state as container: territoriality in the modern world-system,” Progress in Human Geography 18:2 (1994)
-David Vine, “The Lily-Pad Strategy: How the Pentagon Is Quietly Transforming Its Overseas Base Empire and Creating a Dangerous New Way of War,” TomDispatch (July 2012)


-Peter Sand, United States and Britain in Diego Garcia: The Future of a Controversial Base, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009
-David Vine, Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia, Princeton University Press, 2009


– “The Architect’s Expertise in a Judicial Context” with Nina Valerie Kolowratnik (March 2014)
– “Manufacturing Rightlessness: The Camp as a Legal Fiction” with A. Naomi Paik (July 2014)
– “Thinking the Volume: Subterranean, Atmospheric and Oblique Territories” with Stuart Elden (May 2014)
– “Subjectivity of the Map: Cartographying With the Body” with Lucia Jalón Oyarzun (February 2014)