I’ve just had a few weeks of drone related activities which has left me inspired and tired. A couple of weeks ago I spent an afternoon courtesy of Brad Garrett and Adam Fish at Lancaster as part of the CeMoRe sponsored workshop on drone methods. It was incredibly invigorating (and cold) event where we took several drones out onto the campus. We also discussed Brad and Adam’s recent film project which has partly used drone-based cameras to trace and interrogate some of the infrastructure of the internet. The first imagery we saw from the Faroe Islands was gorgeous and reminded me a bit of Ursula Biemann’s work who has so successfully traced the conduits, circuits and politics of resources and labour.
Secondly, I was privileged to play a role – with Sam Kinsley – in examining Anna Jackman’s exceptional and glittering thesis at Exeter Geography Department on Drones – military and non-military – titled ‘Unmanned Geographies’ where she focused detailed empirical and conceptual work on the proponent cultures and technologies that propel the drone into action. Congratulations Anna! One of Anna’s recent articles from her PhD research can be found here.
Thirdly, Duke asked me to do a little back cover blurb on Lisa Parks and Caren Kaplan’s edited volume, Life in the Age of Drone Warfare. I cannot be enthusiastic enough about this volume. It is an amazing book drawing together remarkable scholars working in a wide variety of contexts, from the Horn of Africa, the FATA region of Pakistan to the US/Mexico border. Moreover, it is the fullest collection of papers to cut across social difference I have seen, interrogating how drones shape and reshape geographies, imaginations and political practices through different articulations of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class and national identity. The list of contributors includes Peter Asaro, Brandon Bryant, Katherine Chandler, Jordan Crandall, Ricardo Dominiguez, Derek Gregory, Inderpal Grewal, Lisa Hajjar, Andrea Miller, Anjali Nath, Jeremy Packer, Joshua Reeves, Thomas Stubblefield, Madiha Tahir.
And finally, I had an odd little paper published in Geographica Helvetica trying to decentre the drone a little bit from the perspective of my current work on Levitation, it’s titled ‘Making the Drone Strange’ in a special issue edited by Francisco Klauser and Silvana Pedrozo (Anna’s paper mentioned above is in the same issue, as are Jeremy Crampton, Ole Jensen and others). My paper won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but I hope provokes a wider array of other aesthetic registers and figures with which we can make sense of drones. I should also point out, as a kind of erratum, that the first couple of sentences do a poor job of situating Mark Dorrian’s work, and his excellent Cabinet publication ‘Drone Semiosis’. The phrasing makes it sound like I think Mark is falling for the kinds of mythic fantasies of drones that he is actually being quite careful to examine. I apologise for this misrepresentation. After numerous edits and the best intentions this slipped through.