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Military Waste

The Unexpected Consequences of Permanent War Readiness

World War III has yet to happen, and yet material evidence of this conflict is strewn everywhere: resting at the bottom of the ocean, rusting in deserts, and floating in near-Earth orbit.

In Military Waste, Joshua O. Reno offers a unique analysis of the costs of American war preparation through an examination of the lives and stories of American civilians confronted with what is left over and cast aside when a society is permanently ready for war. Using ethnographic and archival research, Reno demonstrates how obsolete military junk in its various incarnations affects people and places far from the battlegrounds that are ordinarily associated with warfare. Using a broad swath of examples—from excess planes, ships, and space debris that fall into civilian hands, to the dispossessed and polluted island territories once occupied by military bases, to the militarized masculinities of mass shooters—Military Waste reveals the unexpected and open-ended relationships that non-combatants on the home front form with a nation permanently ready for war.

Author Information

RenoJoshua O.:

Joshua O. Reno is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Binghamton University. He is also the author of Waste Away: Working and Living with a North American Landfill and the coeditor, with Catherine Alexander, of Economies of Recycling: The Global Transformation of Materials, Values, and Social Relations.