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30 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 10 March 2010

Armies have always sought to guess the enemy's next move based on past experience. Such crystal gazing took on a fresh urgency during the Cold War as the new discipline of military futurology grappled with the threat of nuclear war. Since then, military futurists have taken their imaginings into more apocalyptic realms. Charged by Western policy makers with the task of 'thinking the unthinkable', they foresee future threats which owe as much to science fiction as to real life. They anticipate cities controlled by terrorists and drug cartels, dictators who've acquired the genetic secret of longevity, even the development of a 'magic bullet' which can't be countered. But do such grim predictions provide a justification for an endless global war against enemies that may never exist? Laurie Taylor discusses a new survey of military futurism with its author, Matthew Carr, and with the geographer Stephen Graham.

Also, from Richard Pryor to Lenny Henry - how humour can reinforce or subvert racial stereotypes. The sociologist Simon Weaver tells Laurie about his research into the nature and variety of anti-racist comedy.

  • Matt Carr

    Matt Carr, Writer and journalist

    Slouching towards dystopia: the new military futurism
    Race & Class, Vol. 51, No. 3, 13-32 (2010)
    DOI: 10.1177/0306396809354164

    'Slouching towards dystopia: the new military futurism'
  • Stephen Graham

    Stephen Graham, Professor of Cities and Society, Global Urban Research Unit, Newcastle University

    Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism
    Publisher: Verso Books
    ISBN-10: 1844673154
    ISBN-13: 978-1844673155

    Find out more about Stephen Graham
  • Simon Weaver

    Simon Weaver, Postdoctoral Fellow in Department of Social Sciences at Loughborough University

    The Other Laughs Back: Humour and resistance in Anti-racist Comedy
    Sociology, Vol. 44, No. 1, 31-48 (2010)
    DOI: 10.1177/0038038509351624

    Find out more about Simon Weaver



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    Thinking Allowed

    Laurie Taylor explores the latest research into how society works and discusses current ideas on how…

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