The Dronification of State Violence

Author: Ian Shaw | Majed Akhter


This article explores the shifting methods of U.S. state violence. Building on their earlier work, the authors focus on the use of drones for targeted killings in Pakistan, but here they tease out the wider implications for the future of "warfare" – particularly the meaning and extent of sovereignty and territory. The authors argue that drone strikes both emerge from and feed back into a series of evolutions in the nature of state violence, centered on the intensely bureaucratic and automated delivery of death. This technopolitical transformation, they contend, is underwritten by the abandonment of "thought" and the ascendance of what Hannah Arendt calls an unaccountable "rule by nobody." To build this argument, the authors investigate the institutional conditions of modern-day drone strikes, moving historically and geographically to the birth of the Predator drone and the rise of the CIA in 1980s Afghanistan. By studying nonhuman sources of power, the authors argue that today's planetary manhunt exceeds any direct human control. They conclude by exploring the "individualization" of targeting and its likely consequences for war and law enforcement.

Regions: Central Asia
Countries: Afghanistan

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