Utrecht University Intimacies of Remote Warfare

This seminar investigates how in the highly securitized political climate of post 9/11, the resort to ‘countering threats at a distance’ by means of remote warfare intersects with notions of (in)s

This seminar investigates how in the highly securitized political climate of post 9/11, the resort to ‘countering threats at a distance’ by means of remote warfare intersects with notions of (in)security, citizenship, legality and human rights. It also seeks to analyze how technological advancements are making it increasingly possible for armed actors to operate across geographical borders, challenging traditional notions of the boundaries of the battlefield.

The spectacular occurrence and mediatization of ‘the terrorist threat’ has transformed Western political debates and institutional arrangements concerning retaliation, privacy, surveillance, exception, secrecy and control. We see how through the rhetoric of ‘securing those at home’ an expanding conglomerate of armed actors is engaged in forms of remote warfare by means of (coalition) air strikes, surveillance programs, training operations, targeted killings and manhunts, often outside conventional war zones in the Middle East and Africa.

Military alliances are forged between, for instance, US Africa Command (AFRICOM), EU coalitions, the UN, NATO and the African Union (AU), which increasingly rely on the use of private military and security companies, remote technology (air strikes, drones) and military-to-military training. While successful at times in terms of defeating enemy combatants, operations have also led to the further militarization of particular regions and many civilian casualties.

This seminar aims to address a lack of evidence on the production, dynamics and impacts of remote warfare. The shadowy nature of remote warfare, and the mobility of its materials, practices and bodies seriously constraints independent research. It is particularly hard to assess local repercussions and trace lines of responsibility and legal accountability. An exchange of ideas, evidence and data-gathering strategies is therefore of key importance.

The Remote Warfare seminar aims to shed light on the dynamics of the instrumental role law can play in the context of contemporary military operations, but also will examine the histories and ‘intimacies’ of remote warfare as experienced by those actively engaged in, and targeted by remote military intervention, as well as the connections between remote warfare (e.g. recent coalition airstrikes in Syria and Iraq) and blowback in the form of reprisal attacks against civilian populations in the West, and the multiple ways in which remote violence is mediated and understood by different (online) audiences.

With this in mind, we explore the following questions and topics:

  • Analytical Vocabularies
  • Ethnographies of remote warfare
  • Histories of remote warfare
  • Business of remote warfare
  • Remote warfare and blowback
  • Lawfare
  • Investigating remote warfare

The full program and more information can be found here

When registering, please indicate which days you wish to attend.

Date of publishing: 05-12-17

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