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The art of parachuting: Embodied geopolitics, aerial aesthetics and dance‐based combat training at Ringway Aerodrome, 1940–1946

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Charlotte Veal



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Wiley, 2020.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


The emergence of air power as the pre-eminent method of warfare prompted a decision, made at the highest level, to form a new arm of the British military. The Central Landing Establishment was founded as parachuting headquarters in 1940, and tasked with developing and implementing the means for training and delivering airborne forces to the ground. With woeful shortfalls in aerial knowledge, experimentation proved crucial. The paper examines the recruitment and synthetic ground training of the British Parachute Regiment at Ringway Aerodrome (1940-1946), and their experimental exchanges with ‘specialists’ in the art of falling. More specifically, in the absence of a recognised landing technique, and with associated high injury rates, Ringway turned to movement theorist Rudolf Laban to advance its embodied aerial practice. The paper will explore how militaries have long recognised the centrality of such embodied and aesthetic regimes to the doing of geopolitics. In particular, it foregrounds the multifaceted, micro-bodily practices – operating through complex interconnected spatialities – that comprise the waging of war. In turn, it asserts the significance of the aesthetic in understanding how geopolitics takes place and is implemented in the world. In doing so, the paper unpacks the ‘art’ within the art of war.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Veal C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers

Year: 2020

Volume: 45

Issue: 1

Pages: 139-154

Print publication date: 06/02/2020

Online publication date: 01/08/2019

Acceptance date: 09/06/2019

Date deposited: 18/06/2019

ISSN (print): 0020-2754

ISSN (electronic): 1475-5661

Publisher: Wiley


DOI: 10.1111/tran.12328


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