Embodying Algorithmic War: Gender, Race, and the Posthuman in Drone Warfare

Citation:

Wilcox, Lauren. 2017. “Embodying Algorithmic War: Gender, Race, and the Posthuman in Drone Warfare.” Security Dialogue 48 (1): 11-28.

Author: Lauren Wilcox

Abstract:

Through a discussion of drone warfare, and in particular the massacre of 23 people in the Uruzgan province in Afghanistan in 2010, I argue that drone warfare is both embodied and embodying. Drawing from posthuman feminist theorists such as Donna Haraway and N Katherine Hayles, I understand the turn toward data and machine intelligence not as an other-than-human process of decisionmaking that deprives humans of sovereignty, but as a form of embodiment that reworks and undermines essentialist notions of culture and nature, biology and technology. Through the intermediation of algorithmic, visual, and affective modes of embodiment, drone warfare reproduces gendered and racialized bodies that enable a necropolitics of massacre. Finally, the category of gender demonstrates a flaw in the supposed perfectibility of the algorithm in removing issues of identity or prejudice from security practices, as well as the perceptions of drone assemblages as comprising sublime technologies of perfect analysis and vision. Gender as both a mode of embodiment and a category of analysis is not removed by algorithmic war, but rather is put into the service of the violence it enables.

Keywords: Affect, drones, embodiment, gender, visuality

Topics: Armed Conflict, "New Wars", Feminisms, Gender, Race, Violence, Weapons /Arms Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan

Year: 2017

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