Drone imaginaries and Society

The programme for the conference on Drone Imaginaries and Society at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense has just been released:

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

9:30 Welcome and introduction: Drone Imaginaries and Society – Kathrin Maurer, Daniela Agostinho

10:00 – 12:15 Session 1: Drone Art

Thomas Stubblefield, Signature Strikes: Drone Art and World-Making
Jan Mieszkowski, Drones and the Big Data Sublime

13:00 – 15:15 Session 2: Seeing with Drones

Svea Braeunert, Forms of the Unseen: Hito Steyerl’s Documents of Drone Warfare

Rasmus Degnbol, Photographing Europe’s Border Change from Above

15:45 – 17:45 Session 3: Drones and Social Communities

Jutta Weber, Social Radar: On Drones and Data Science
Dan Gettinger and Arthur Holland, Drone Art: What it Means, Why it Matters, and Where it’s Going

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

9:15 – 11:30 Session 4: Drone Art and Surveillance 

Tomas van Houtryve, Blue Sky Days
Sarah Tuck, Drone Vision: Warfare, Surveillance and Protest

12:15 – 14:30 Session 5: Drones and Gender Politics 

Lauren Wilcox, Queering War: The Gender Politics of the Drone
Claudette Lauzon, The Objects of Drone Warfare: A Feminist Art History

14.45 – 16:00 KEYNOTE 

Derek Gregory, Sweet Target…Sweet Child: Aerial Violence and the Imaginaries of Remote Warfare

The conference is free of charge, but you need to register for it here; more information here.

Drone Imaginaries and Society

News from Kathrin Maurer of a conference on Drone Imaginaries and Society, 5-6 June 2018, at the University of Southern Denmark (Odense).  I’ll be giving a keynote, and look forward to the whole event very much (and not only because, while I’ve visited Denmark lots of times and loved every one of them, I’ve never made it to Odense):

Drones are in the air. The production of civilian drones for rescue, transport, and leisure activity is booming. The Danish government, for example, proclaimed civilian drones a national strategy in 2016. Accordingly, many research institutions as well as the industry focus on the development, usage, and promotion of drone technology. These efforts often prioritize commercialization and engineering as well as setting-up UAV (Unmanned Arial Vehicle) test centers. As a result, urgent questions regarding how drone technology impacts our identity as humans as well as their effects on how we envision the human society are frequently underexposed in these initiatives.

Our conference aims to change this perspective. By investigating cultural representations of civilian and military drones in visual arts, film, and literature, we intend to shed light on drone technology from a humanities’ point of view. This aesthetic “drone imaginary” forms not only the empirical material of our discussions but also a prism of knowledge which provides new insights into the meaning of drone technology for society today.

Several artists, authors, film makers, and thinkers have already engaged in this drone imaginary. While some of these inquiries provide critical reflection on contemporary and future drone technologies – for instance issues such as privacy, surveillance, automation, and security – others allow for alternative ways of seeing and communicating as well as creative re-imagination of new ways of organizing human communities. The goal of the conference is to bring together these different aesthetic imaginaries to better understand the role of drone technologies in contemporary and future societies.

 The focus points of the conference are:

–     Aesthetic drone imaginaries: Which images, metaphors, ethics, emotions and affects are associated to drones through their representation in art, fiction and popular culture?

–     Drone technology and its implications for society: How do drones change our daily routines and push the balance between publicity and privacy?

–     Historical perspective on drones: In what way do drone imaginaries allow for a counter-memory that can challenge, for instance, the military implementation of drones?

–     Drones as vulnerability: Do drones make societies more resilient or more fragile, and are societies getting overly dependent on advanced technologies?

     Utopian or dystopian drone imaginaries: What dream or nightmare scenarios are provided by drone fiction and how do they allow for a (re)imagining of future societies?

–     Drones and remote sensing: In what way do drones mark a radical new way of seeing and sensing by their remotely vertical gaze and operative images?

     Drone warfare: Do drones mark a continuation or rupture of the way we understand war and conflict, and how do they change the military imaginary?

The conference is sponsored by the Drone Network (Danish Research Council) and Institute for the Study of Culture at the University of Southern Denmark.

 You can contact Kathrin at  kamau@sdu.dk

The conference website is here.

Pictures of war

An interesting CFP for a conference next spring on Pictures of war: the still image in conflict since 1945:

Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester UK
24th & 25th May 2018
(Deadline for CFP: January 12, 2018)

A conference on the intersections of conflict and pictures from the end of WWII until today.

Since the end of World War II, the nature and depiction of geopolitical conflicts have changed in technology, scale and character. The Cold War political landscape saw many struggles for liberation and national identity becoming proxy battlegrounds for the major powers. In the aftermath of anti-colonial conflicts, refugees and migrants who had relocated to the former metropolises joined those already fighting for civil equality in these countries. Wars continue to be waged in the name of democracy and terror, and in the interests of linguistic, theological and racial worldviews. Migration and displacement as a result of conflict are again at the top of the agenda.

As the technologies of war have shifted, so have the technologies of making pictures. This conference seeks to engage with these phenomena through critically engaged approaches to the processes of visualisation, their methodologies and epistemologies that will contribute to our understanding of the ways conflicts are pictured. The intention is to expand the field of enquiry beyond localised, thematic or media-specific approaches and to encourage new perspectives on the material and visual cultures of pictures.

We invite scholars, artists and activists interested in the study of images and pictures in their own right, with their own and admittedly interdependent discourses and visual and material capacities for producing knowledge and meaning (Mitchell, 2005). We are interested in presentations that consider the temporal and physical mobility of pictures and their visual, material, affective, political and economic value from multi and interdisciplinary positions.

Full details of themes, abstracts etc here and here.

Violence, space and the political

News of a wonderful conference at the National University of Ireland, Galway on 7-9 June 2018 featuring Mustafa Dikeç (for his new book, see here):

In this, multi-disciplinary, conference we wish to think through the imbrications of violence, space, and the political. Given that our present conjuncture is one constituted by innumerable sites of apartheid, exclusion, oppression, and indeed, resistance(s), such an interrogation is both crucial and potentially productive in re-thinking questions of power and radical politics. In this zeitgeist the contingency of hitherto relatively stable configurations of power have been rendered visible through the failing allure of liberal democratic politics and the dislocation conjured by, among other things, its attendant ‘spectral dance of capital’ (Žižek, 2008). A void has been rift from which a plurality of discourses have proliferated that seek to address this moment of crises by either caging/bounding or expanding the social. That is, at stake in many contemporary political projects currently gaining traction is the redrawing of frontiers, the very bounds of inclusion and exclusion – from international borders and multilevel governance, to the remaking of frontiers within existing polities. Violence/antagonism, in various iterations, is central to the (re)inscription of these frontiers (Laclau and Mouffe, 1985). Not only evident in ostensibly bellicose projects that seek to uphold, contest, or expand regimes of power through violent struggle, violence is imbricated in an other, perhaps more foundational or ‘originary’ sense (Arendt, 1963; Derrida, 1990). The redrawing of boundaries reconfigures differential relationships of power and propriety, which designate who has the right to speak sovereignly in a given space, who is a worthy and noble victim, and who is not, who is differentially exposed to systemic, symbolic and subjective forms of violence, whose life is ‘grievable’ and whose is not (Butler, 2009). By keeping the question of the spatial in view, both its making and breaking, we keep a focus not only the concrete practices of disruption, the democratic potentialities of space (Dikeç, 2015), new forms of liberation, domination, and property, but also the various spatio-political imaginaries that guide them.

The Power, Conflict and Ideologies Research Cluster at National University of Ireland, Galway invite potential participants from across the disciplinary spectrum to submit papers of 20 minutes duration. This conference may be of interest to those scholars working within, among others, the disciplines of: Social Theory, Political Theory, Feminist and Queer Theory, Philosophy, Sociology, Political Geography, Political Violence, War Studies, Anthropology, and Cultural Studies.

Please submit abstracts (approx. 250 words) to violenceandspace@gmail.com  by 9 February 2018. The abstract should be submitted as a word/pdf attachment, and contain the authors name, institutional affiliation, and a summary of the proposed paper.

For more info and registration details and fees see:  violencespaceandthepolitical.com

Potential themes that speakers may seek to address:

  • Spaces of Democracy, Emancipation(s), and Resistance

  • Political Violence and Space

  • Vulnerability\Resistance and Spaces of the Political

  • Rethinking Territoriality

  • (De)Coloniality,  Violence, and the Political

  • The Spatial Reproduction of the Collective Subject

  • Lost and New Spatio-Political Imaginaries

  • Precarity and the State

  • Rethinking Sovereignty

  • Histories/Genealogies of Spatial Violence

  • Race, Space and, the Political

  • Communities in Revolt

  • Security and Space

  • Border Politics

  • Property, Violence, and Propriety

  • Technologies, Space, and Power

  • Geographies of Rage

  • Spaces of Populism

  • Queering Space

  • Old and New Colonialisms

  • Rebel Spaces

Surveillance beyond borders and boundaries

An unusually interesting Call for Papers for a conference organised by the Surveillance Studies Network in Aarhus (Denmark) 7 – 9 June 2018. This will be their 8th conference; the banner above is ripped from their 6th in 2014.

You can download the full CfP (from which I’ve extracted the details below) here.

SURVEILLANCE BEYOND BORDERS AND BOUNDARIES

Recent years have witnessed the increasing scope, reach and pervasiveness of surveil- lance. It now operates on a scale ranging from the genome to the universe. Across the spheres of private and public life and the spaces between, surveillance mediates, documents and facilitates a wide range of activities. At the same time, surveillance practices now reach beyond the corporal and temporal boundaries of life itself, no longer resting on the individual as subject, but instead falling both within and beyond it. This emphasises the porosity of such categories. Pervasive surveillance produces new articulations of power and animates ows of people, information and capital, harbouring potential for myriad opportunities as well as harms. With this growth of surveillance comes in- creasing complexity and paradox.

Within this milieu, these issues are particularly pronounced, controversial and prescient in relation to borders and boundaries. Surveillance practices have long been associated with shoring up territorial and categorical borders, yet in the digital age such practices become accelerated, in many cases beyond the speed of human comprehension. Highly dynamic inscriptions of difference, abnormality and undesirability are now commonplace. At the same time, surveillance practices transcend and challenge erstwhile articulations of borders and boundaries, including enabling mobility for some, uniting formerly fractured assemblies of information and the capacitating borderless passage of data.

The conference

Since 2004 the Biennial Surveillance Studies Network conference has become established as the world’s most significant gathering of surveillance studies experts. The Surveillance Studies Network is a registered charitable company dedicated to the study of surveillance in all its forms, and the free distribution of scholarly information, and con- stitutes the largest association of surveillance scholars in the world. The Surveillance Studies Network owns the leading surveillance-focused peer-reviewed journal Surveillance & Society, which has held long association with the conference. We encourage presenters to submit fully formed papers to the journal to be considered for publication.

We call for papers and panels from all areas of critical enquiry that seek to examine such complex articulations and impacts of surveillance in contemporary society. We invite participants to discuss, develop or demolish the borders and boundaries of surveillance. In particular, we welcome interventions that are truly interdisciplinary, multi-disciplinary, or transdisciplinary in scope and reach, from academics, activists, artists, and policy-makers, especially those who sit on the borderlands between academia and practice-based knowledge production.

Key themes include, but are not limited to:

Authority, democracy and surveillance

Surveillance and everyday life

History of surveillance

Surveillance and digital/social media

Art, action and surveillance

Surveillance infrastructures and architectures

Managing borders and uncertainty

Theories of surveillance

Ethics, philosophy, trust and intimacy in and of surveillance

Regulation, politics and governance of surveillance

Algorithmic surveillance and big data

Resistance to surveillance

Non-technological and interpersonal surveillance

Paper Proposals

Paper sessions will be composed by the Organising Committee based on the individual Paper Proposals submitted. Paper Proposals should consist of: Name(s) of Author(s); Affiliation(s) of Author(s); Proposed Title of Paper; An abstract of up to 150 words.

On acceptance paper proposers will be invited to submit an extended abstract, presentation summary, paper outline or developed paper draft of at least 2000 words for publication in the delegates area of the conference website ahead of the event. This can be submitted anytime up until the May deadline.

Visual or other artistic submissions

We welcome and encourage alternative formats, including but not limited to visual dis- plays and other artistic installations. These may include but are not limited to lms, documentaries, photographic exhibitions, architectural modeling and digital-mediated artistic forms. Artistic submissions should consist of: Name(s) of proposer/artist; Affiliation(s); An overview of the proposed submission of up to 250 words.

Panel Proposals

Panels are sessions that bring together a diverse group of panelists with varied views on a topic related to the conference theme. The session format should engage the panelists and audience in an interactive discussion. Panels should be designed to fit in a 90-minute session. Panel Proposals should consist of: Name(s) of Organiser(s); Affiliations; Proposed Title of Panel; An abstract of up to 300 words describing the panel, including why the panel is of interest to the conference, and the proposed format of the panel; Name(s) and Affiliation(s) and abstracts for all included papers (150 words) of all proposed panelists. Speakers included in successful panel proposals also will be required to later submit the more developed extended abstract, presentation summary, paper outline or developed paper draft of at least 2000 words as per the instructions for paper proposals above. NB: Organisers must secure the agreement of all proposed panelists before submitting the Panel Proposal.

Deadline

All proposals should be submitted by December 31st 2017.  Decisions will be returned by January 31st 2018

All extended outlines/presentation summaries/paper drafts to be submitted by May 1st 2018

Submissions should be made through the EasyChair submission webportal here.

Contact: ssn2018@cc.au.dk

Topographies of Mass Violence

montreal-museum-of-contemporary-arts-day

I’ve agreed to speak at the Max and Iris Stern International Symposium on Topographies of Mass Violence to be held at the wonderful Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) (above) 31 March 31/1 April 2017.

We’re still figuring out what I might do, but here is the general description of the symposium.  More details when I have them.

The 11th annual Max and Iris Stern International Symposium, Topographies of Mass Violence, will be held at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal on March 31 and April 1, 2017, accompanying the shows Mundos by Mexican artist Teresa Margolles and Now Have a Look at this Machine, by Quebec artist Emanuel Licha. The symposium will address the phenomena of mass violence and the ways in which it is intimately linked to the territories and spaces in which it is perpetrated, but also the spatial and architectural arrangements through which it is mediated.

Mass violence is defined as violence by a government or organized group against certain members of a community or an entire population (members of an ethnic, religious or sexual community, inhabitants of a country). It encompasses violence against a few individuals to several hundred thousand victims: shootings, terrorist acts, feminicides, armed conflict, genocide. While there has always been mass violence, with war being one of the most common manifestations, since the early 1990s the nature of such violence as well as its modes of appearance and representation have changed. Far from making the world a peaceful place, the end of the Cold War and the opening of political, cultural and commercial borders has resulted in ongoing war, even in the heart of Europe, and a resurgence of the oldest forms of mass violence (such as genocide and ethnic cleansing in Rwanda and the Balkans). Recent decades have also been marked by an increase in certain types of mass violence: against women (the Polytechnique massacre, killing of First Nations women), against sexual communities (the shooting in Orlando, murders of transgender people), against Blacks (police violence) and even against certain social and occupational categories (Charlie Hebdo journalists, Mexican students). Climate change—which has its roots in political decisions about territorial management and is often closely intertwined with conflict—is also a source of broad-scale violence against civilian populations, provoking major movements of people which has in turn resulted in government attempts to impose spatial management on individuals (border walls, refugee camps, apartheids).

The ways in which these phenomena are represented has also undergone major transformations since the early 1990s. The first Gulf War marked the start of an intensive production of images of conflict, leading to tight governmental controls on their dissemination. Later, the advent of the Internet and social media allowed new actors to get involved in producing and disseminating such images, including amateur reporters and victims, but also perpetrators, in a trend toward the spectacularization of group killings: the September 11 attacks, the macabre scenes staged by Mexican drug cartels and the executions filmed by the Islamic State.

In this symposium, an international group of specialists in a variety of disciplines (historians of art, architecture and urban planning, of film and media, as well as architects, artists, activists and curators) will address these phenomena and suggest ways to think about them that go beyond their traditional representations in the media. Their contributions will help us imagine how the investigation of certain spatial artefacts inherent to architecture, city planning or military tactics can lead to a better understanding of these forms of violence.

Mapping, forensic architecture and visual cultures provide tools for conducting such spatial investigations, and certain artistic practices associated with these inquiries seek to offer alternative modes of representation. To escape the media polarization of unrepresentability/spectacularization, but also to counter government erasure and denial of mass violence, many artists take on the role of topographer by recording and representing the traces of this violence in the places where it has been directly or indirectly inscribed. Whether this involves territories where the violence has occurred (such as the Syrian, Iraqi and Libyan deserts; the Highway of Tears in British Columbia and Downtown Eastside in Vancouver;Ciudad Juárez and adjacent neighbourhoods), the evidence that remains (mass graves, destroyed cities, abandoned houses …) or the architectural structures which have made the representation and mediatization possible (war hotels …), mass violence is inseparable from topos.

muro-ciudad-jaurez-2010

Margolles’s Mundos brings together multiple works addressing violence in Mexico:

For over 30 years, Margolles has developed her practice in response to the endemic violence that ravages her country (violent deaths from the drug trade, marginalities and exclusions, feminicides and social injustice). The exhibition, Mundos, brings together works mainly created in this decade, along with pieces that have never been shown before. It includes sculptural and photographic installations, performative interventions and videos. Spare, yet powerfully moving, the work by Margolles reaches out and brings us into the world of those whose lives have been made invisible.

hotelmachine_licha05

Licha’s Now Have a Look at this Machine is an installation version of a documentary, Hotel Machine:

Licha filmed in five cities—Beirut, Sarajevo, Gaza, Kiev and Belgrade—in five hotels that house war correspondents covering conflicts. The film is presented in a central space surrounded by five adjacent archive stations, which through texts, images and other documents explore aspects of the concept of the “war hotel.”

Palestine under occupation

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I’ve been struggling with the flu, and even more with Netanyahu’s bilious reaction to the UN Settlements Resolution and John Kerry‘s statement of the obvious about the illegal Israeli colonisation of the West Bank.  (If you want the background, then Eyal Weizman‘s Hollow Land is the place to start, while the Foundation for Middle East Peace is an indispensable resource for tracking the colonisation process up to 2014).

So I was pleased to receive this notice of a research workshop at Queen Mary, University of London on 26 May 2017:

Palestine under occupation: the legitimation of violence and the violence of legitimation

We invite proposals for papers to be presented at this one-day research workshop hosted by the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary, University of London. The workshop will consist of a series of panels during the day followed by a public lecture.

This workshop considers the connection between violence and legitimation in the maintenance of the occupation of Palestine. The Israeli colonisation of Palestine demands an interrogation of the techniques, strategies, and discourses through which this violent state of affairs is legitimated, especially as it takes on more extreme forms such as the recent wars in Gaza. This workshop seeks firstly to bring together existing scholarship which has examined the legitimation of Israeli state violence through practices such as law, human rights, ethics, visual representations, narrative, memory, and history. However, it also seeks to examine these issues alongside other questions surrounding the legitimation and de-legitimation of Palestinian actors, agendas, and political strategies, particularly in the wake of recent high profile attempts to restrict international solidarity activism. The conference asks whether and how these contemporary struggles over legitimacy and violence are related, and what their interrogation might reveal about each other.

The workshop’s departure point is a critical analysis of the order surrounding the legitimation of violence, asking how global ethics, international law, racial hierarchies, gender domination, economic exchange and state-making practices have shaped the permissible use of violence, as well as the possible strategies for resisting this violence. For example, has the statelessness of Palestinian resistance meant a lack of access not only to technological ‘advanced’ forms of warfare, but also the inability to claim the legitimate authority of state-wielded violence? Have orders of acceptable violence led to the reproduction of Israeli state violence? And has the circulation of Israel’s strategies of legitimation abroad also served to strengthen the legitimisation of its use of violence in Palestine?

The workshop also seeks to raise more fundamental questions about the political and analytic categories of legitimation and violence themselves. These questions prompt us to consider not only how practices of legitimation directly facilitate violence, but also how this very interaction modifies existing understandings of legitimacy and illegitimacy, violence and non-violence. At what point do legitimation and de-legitimation, insofar as they structure the field of domination of some actors over others, not only depend on violence but also become violent practices in and of themselves? These concerns echo some of those articulated in Walter Benjamin’s critique of violence and Foucault’s historico-political analysis of war. But they also push the categories of these inquiries further through consideration of the relationship of legitimacy and violence in a colonial setting in which statehood remains a highly contested political field.

Proposals may wish to address one or more of the questions below:

Through what strategies has Israel sought to legitimate the violence of its occupation of Palestine, and how have these been resisted?
What forms has the struggle for political legitimacy in Palestine taken, and what has been the corresponding role of attempts at de-legitimisation?
How are struggles over legitimacy and violence in Palestine related, and how does this affect our understanding of the meaning and instantiation of these concepts?
How have different state-making technologies, apparatuses, norms and institutions ordered permissible forms of violence both historically and contemporarily in Israel and Palestine?
What tools, both conceptual and strategic, are needed to reorder the legitimation of violence which structure the continued occupation of Palestine?

In framing proposals, we encourage contributors to approach the occupation of Palestine in its full historical and geographical dimensions, ranging if necessary beyond the experience of the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967 and/or the post-1948 period.

screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-13-19-49
Keynote speaker: Noura Erakat. Noura is a human rights attorney and currently an Assistant Professor at George Mason University; a co-editor of Jadaliyya  – another indispensable resource – she is working on a book-length manuscript that narrates the Palestinian-Israel conflict through critical junctures in international law.

Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words to James Eastwood (james.eastwood@qmul.ac.uk) and Catherine Charrett (c.charrett@qmul.ac.uk).

Funds are available for modest travel bursaries for research students and early career academics. Please contact the organisers for more details.

Deadline for proposals: 24th February 2017.