Five Panelists and the Author Discuss Katherine Chandler’s Book "Unmanning: How Humans, Machines and Media Perform Drone Warfare"

Type: Virtual Panel
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Poster #:
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM (PST)
Room: Virtual 17
Organizers: Shiloh Krupar
Chairs: Shiloh Krupar


In this author-meets-critic virtual panel, five scholars will address Kate Chandler’s book Unmanning: How Humans, Machines and Media Perform Drone Warfare (Rutgers University Press, 2020), and the author will respond. Unmanning studies the conditions that create unmanned platforms in the United States through a genealogy of experimental, pilotless planes flown between 1936 and 1992. Characteristics often attributed to the drone—including machine-like control, enmity and remoteness—are achieved by displacements between humans and machines that shape a mediated theater of war. Rather than primarily treating the drone as a result of the war on terror, this book examines contemporary targeted killing through a series of failed experiments to develop unmanned flight in the twentieth century. The human, machine and media parts of drone aircraft are organized to make an ostensibly not-human framework for war that disavows its political underpinnings as technological advance. These experiments are tied to histories of global control, cybernetics, racism and colonialism. Drone crashes and failures call attention to the significance of human action in a technopolitics that paradoxically opposes “man” as its basis. Panelists will use the book Unmanning as a starting point to question the assumptions that often underwrite contemporary debates about drone warfare and to unsettle contemporary drone imaginaries, drawing on considerations of the racialized/gendered geographies and colonial political ecologies of militarization; border policing, surveillance technologies, and state violence; and the culture and politics of machines and media.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Introduction Shiloh Krupar Georgetown University 3 1:30 PM
Panelist Carolyn Gallaher American University 10 1:33 PM
Panelist Katharine Hall Queen Mary University of London 10 1:43 PM
Panelist Madiha Tahir 10 1:53 PM
Panelist Lindsey Dillon University of California - Santa Cruz 10 2:03 PM
Panelist Geoffrey Boyce University of Arizona 10 2:13 PM
Panelist Javier Arbona UC Davis 10 2:23 PM
Discussant Katherine Chandler Georgetown University 12 2:33 PM

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