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Queering War: The Gender Politics of The Drone

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SOAS

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Image by Harun Farocki, Serious Games
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Drone politics exists in this somewhat unregulated gap created when technology advances faster than the law system. Like many technological breakthroughs, our ability to grasp their judicial implications lags behind our enthusiasm to use them. Airbnb saw entire cities ban the use of the app almost eight years after its founding (Berlin being a prime example). And Uber, seven years since its founding, is currently struggling to maintain its usage in London under continuous new laws that aim to restrict its functions.
One of the biggest issues the world is facing currently is the restrictive laws that apply to drone flying - or to be more precise, the non existing laws. At the moment, there is nothing to stop anyone going and buying a drone and taking it out flying, as long as the drone weighs less than 20kg and is not used for commercial reasons.

Officially known as unnamed aerial vehicles (UAVs), drones are now used in a wide range of industries, from aerial surveillance of crops to search and rescue operations to delivery of medical supplies to remote or otherwise inaccessible regions. But just like any industry, there exists a subterranean use of the device such as smuggling, illegal surveillance and drone striking used by rebel fighting groups across the globe (and military). In August of 2016 a drone was caught smuggling both drugs and mobile phones into London’s Pentonville Prison for example.

But according to Dr. Lauren Wilcox, the turn towards machine intelligence is “not an other-than-human process of decision-making that deprives humans of sovereignty, but as a form of embodiment that reworks and undermines essentialist notions of culture and nature, biology and technology.” Arguing that drone warfare and usage more generally produces gendered and racialized communities that enable a necropolitics of massacre. How then do we move forward with a booming technology which seems to be obliterating the human rights fought for in the past century?

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