Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Embodying vertical geopolitics: Towards a political geography of falling

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Charlotte Veal



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


The emergence of air power in the 20th Century marked a new era of warfare. Speed, covertness, mobility, and verticality emerged as the buzzwords. This paper examines experimental body-centred encounters with verticality during preparatory parachute training at Ringway Aerodrome 1940–1945. I trace how falling bodies encountered, were organised in, and harnessed space for air-led warfare and, by extension, how vertically moving bodies perform alternative geopolitical realities. First, the paper outlines a political geography of falling and calls for greater critical conceptual thinking on the micro-practices capable of exerting geopolitical influence. Second, I outline three design principles cultivated through military parachuting. Repetition, relationality, and alignment advance theorisations of the organisation of aerial space, and affirm the entangled geographies of embodiment, verticality, and geopolitics. I draw upon the Royal Air Force's practical airborne training programme as a means for enacting ‘high readiness, forced entry’ operations through the amalgamation of man, technological-non-human, and air. The paper argues for the achievement of air power and the performance of aerial supremacy through gravity and falling. This has important implications for unpacking the corporeal mobilities and training practices by which geopolitical realities are known, embodied, made, and articulated, and of the role of elite performances of aerial mobility in disrupting inter/national aerial sovereignty.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Veal C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Political Geography

Year: 2021

Volume: 86

Print publication date: 01/04/2021

Online publication date: 24/02/2021

Acceptance date: 08/02/2021

Date deposited: 25/02/2021

ISSN (print): 0962-6298

ISSN (electronic): 1873-5096

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2021.102354


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric