Adam Haley, PhD

CONFERENCE TALK: Distant Bodies and the Proximities of Drone Subjectivity

At the Northeast Modern Language Association conference, I presented “Distant Bodies and the Proximities of Drone Subjectivity,” a project that emerged out of an unofficial class on distance technologies from drones to finance to MOOCs.  In the paper, I attempt to tease out something like “drone subjectivity” as a way of describing the mode of being produced by the way technologies of power and labor condition distance in the present, compressing and expanding physical space so as to facilitate a particular set of power relations.  Here’s a snippet:

I am interested in the drone less as a particular technology in a particular context—as it is in fact a set of technologies variously configured, combined, and deployed—than I am in droneness or drone subjectivity as an increasingly dominant mode of relation between bodies across great distances.  The drone, in other words, as a figure for a certain regime of bodily relationality in the era of neoliberal globalization and of a particularly intensified and virtualized formation of finance capital.  Though one might usefully hook drone subjectivity up to a post-Foucault history of biopower’s acceleration in a control society, I am more interested here in articulating it as an increasingly inescapable condition of relation in the present.  What is it to inhabit a body in relation to other bodies under the aegis of the drone, on whose indispensability even the figureheads of nation-state and corporation can agree?  How might our thinking of the socius as technologically, politically, and economically mediated be informed by the figure of the drone?  How does the ascendency, figuratively and literally, of drone technology condition both distance as such and the human experience of empathy, attention, and power across distance?


Adam Haley • April 5, 2014

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