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Call for Papers: Experiments in Force? Science and the Apparatus of Warfare

April 05 2017 to April 09 2017 | Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Boston, MA (USA)

Updated: September 15 2016

Recent developments in the means and techniques of warfare have raised questions anew about the spatial delimitation of the battlefield, the legal and ethical norms about killing, and the migration of military technologies to other spheres of security practice. In response, scholars from a variety of disciplines have worked to make sense of these changing geographies of war and violence through scholarship on weapons systems, algorithmic surveillance, special operations, and logistics and infrastructure. Within this work, one approach has been to explore warfare as a set of interrelated processes and has emphasized the longer genealogies and historical geographies of the technologies and materialities of these practices (Kim 2016, Gordillo 2014, Chamayou 2015, Salter 2015, 2016). Less attention, however, has been devoted to historical role of science, and particularly scientific experimentation and testing, in designing, using and managing the scope and consequences of these war technologies and practices over time (c.f. De Landa 1991, Bousquet 2009, Howell 2011, Johnson 2015). Drawing on a tradition of viewing science as a political practice (Latour 1987, Schaffer and Shapin 1985, Daston and Galison 2010), this panel will recast recent attention to the ‘apparatus’ of war – the collection of actors, objects, practices and discourses through which violent action is constituted (Gregory 2011, Bolton 2015). Focusing on the role of experimental practice in the evolution of the fields – spaces and objectives – of battle, the objective is to consider the consequences not only for means and mechanisms that become possible, but also permissible. The focus is therefore to examine the settings in which techniques and technologies are tested out and in time become standardized, such that the violence of war becomes rational, legal and ethical. We are especially interested in papers, both historical and contemporary in scope, related to (but not excluded to) the changing targets and targeting of killing, the intersection of the spaces of science and war (such as laboratories, testing grounds and military industries), the historical and recent geographies of cyberspace and cyberwarfare, the intersection between medicine and military practice, and the epistemological frameworks underpinning practices of science and warfare.

Please send abstracts (250 words) and/or questions to Katharine Kindervater (katharine.h.kindervater@dartmouth.edu) and Nisha Shah (nisha.shah@uottawa.ca) by October 1, 2016

Bolton M (2015) From Minefields to Minespace: An Archeology of the Changing Architecture of Autonomous Killing In US Army Field Manuals On Landmines, Booby Traps and IEDs. Political Geography 46: 41-53.

Bousquet A (2009) The Scientific Way of Warfare: Order and Chaos on the Battlefields of Modernity. London: Hurst Publishers.

Chamayou, G (2015) A Theory of the Drone. New York: The New Press.

Daston L and Galison P (2010) Objectivity. New York: Zone Books.

Gordillo G (2015) Rubble: The Afterlife of Destruction. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Gregory, D (2011) From a View to Kill: Drones and Late Modern War. Theory, Culture, and Society 29: 188-215.

Howell, A (2011) Madness in International Relations: Psychology, Security and the Global Governance of Mental Health. London and New York: Routledge.

Johnson, E (2015) Of Lobsters, Laboratories, and War: Animal Studies and the Temporality of More-Than-Human Encounters. Environment and Planning D 33 (2): 296-313.

Kim EJ (2016) Toward an Anthropology of Landmines: Rogue Infrastructure and Military Waste in the Korean DMZ. Cultural Anthropology 31(2): 162-187.

Salter M (ed.) Making Things International 1: Circuits and Motion. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2015.

Salter M (ed.) Making Things International 2: Catalysts and Reactions. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2016.