Seminar: “Weaponizing American Territory” by Mary X. Mitchell, April 25, Paris (Sciences Po)

On April 25, the Chair for Security Studies at the Centre for International Relations (CERI), Sciences Po Paris, led by Prof. Benoît Pélopidas, has the pleasure to host a seminar by Dr Mary X. Mitchell (Cornell University, USA), on “Weaponizing American Territory”. Please notice registration to attend the event is mandatory (mail to:

Place and time: CERI – 56, rue Jacob – 75005 Paris – ‘Salle du Conseil’ (4th floor), 5 to 7 pm.

Discussants: Dr Roberto Cantoni (Sciences Po), Dr Sonia Drobysz (Vertic)

“Weaponizing American Territory”  

At the close of World War II, the United States Navy occupied a vast region of Oceania stretching over more than 7,800,00 square kilometers of the Pacific Ocean and covering more than 100 inhabited islands and atolls. As the world settled into an uneasy peace, US military men and civilian policy makers debated how best to maintain control over these islands and waters. This paper examines how nuclear weapons systems–from the weapons themselves to their operators and delivery systems–influenced debates about what form of territorial status the US should install in American-occupied Oceania. It follows American New Deal lawyers as they envisioned a new kind of international territorial status–strategic trusteeship–and traces the aftermaths as the American security state co-opted this new territorial form, using it to support US nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands. The paper argues that the United States, in effect, weaponized territorial status when it created the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.