Hugh Gusterson: Drone Warfare and the New Military Humanism

Tue. 15 May 2018
4:00 pm – 5:30 pm AEST

Deakin Downtown
727 Collins Street

ABSTRACT: US officials present drones as weapons less likely to kill innocent civilians because of their ability to track potential targets for hours, verifying their identity as insurgents and attacking only when civilians are not in the cross-hairs. Critiquing this military humanism as grounded in “drone essentialism,” this seminar explores the way actual protocols for drone attacks depart from idealized scenarios. It does this through a detailed exploration of the drone warfare campaign in Waziristan. This campaign has killed many civilians; it has also dramatized drones’ capacity to function as psychological terror weapons that impose cultural and psychological effects on communities analogous to those of death squads in Central America in the 1980s.

BIO: Hugh Gusterson is Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at George Washington University. He is the author of Nuclear Rites (University of California Press, 1996), People of the Bomb (University of Minnesota Press, 2004), and Drone (MIT Press, 2016). He is also the co-editor of Cultures of Insecurity (University of Minnesota Press, 1999), The Insecure American (University of California Press, 2009), and Why America’s Top Pundits Are Wrong (University of California Press, 2005). He has a regular column for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and for the new public anthropology website, Sapiens.He has also published in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Philadelphia Inquirer, ScienceNatureNew ScientistAmerican Scientist, and The Sciences.

From 2009-2012, Gusterson served on the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association, in which capacity he co-chaired the final phase of approval of the Association’s new ethics code. He is President of the American Ethnological Society and was a member of the American Anthropological Association’s Task Force on Engagement with Israel/Palestine.