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With the growing use of armed drones by the U.S. homeland security state, the nexus of race, space, and visuality has developed a vector of verticality—racialization from above—to supplement the long history of racialization on the ground, both in the United States and abroad. Taking the killing of Osama bin Laden as a point of departure, this essay considers how racialization from above transmutes the temporality of warfare through notions of preemption and endurance, recalibrates Orientalist imagined geography through recast concepts of proximity, and fixates on the capacity for precision targeting along the borders of U.S. imperial cartography. While doing so reveals how the raciality of the war on terror is produced through visual technologies, the essay concludes by speculating briefly on how a counterarchive might enable us to see otherwise.

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