War's Perpetuity: Disabled Bodies of War and the Exoskeleton of Equality

Citation:

Heathcote, Gina. 2018. "War's Perpetuity: Disabled Bodies of War and the Exoskeleton of Equality." Australian Feminist Law Journal 44, (1): 71-91.

Author: Gina Heathcote

Abstract:

Assistive technologies, such as exoskeletons, work to render female bodies ‘closer’ to male capabilities in armed conflict situations. At the same time, the maiming of male bodies in conflict can be charted as a persistent outcome of armed conflict that has received scant attention within the study of the gendered effects of armed conflict. War’s production of the disabled male body has also led to significant developments with respect to assistive technologies, via the work of, in particular, the US military. I argue that the investment of the US military in the development of exoskeletons, when understood alongside the US military’s investment in assistive mobility technologies for returned soldiers, raises questions about the futility of creating technology only to perpetuate the existence of the battlefield. Far from a project built on gender equality goals, investment in exoskeleton technology seemingly underlines the manner in which the male body of war will increasingly be able to return to the battlefield, to be maimed and to be restored in perpetuity. I conclude by arguing exoskeletons should be used to reimagine subjectivity, via debility, with a mindfulness of the material effects and underlying philosophical traces within subjectivity. I argue for a shift in approaching subjectivity via an intersectional and post-human model, rather than a legal subject that perpetuates modernist man, promotes a thin understanding of gender equality, or deploys exoskeletons as a tool for the destructive impulses of armed conflict.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Male Combatants, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2018

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