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Unmanning: How Humans, Machines and Media Perform Drone Warfare
by Katherine Chandler
Rutgers University Press, 2020
eISBN: 978-1-9788-0976-5 | Paper: 978-1-9788-0974-1 | Cloth: 978-1-9788-0975-8
Library of Congress Classification UG1242.D7C435 2020
Dewey Decimal Classification 358.4183

Unmanning studies the conditions that create unmanned platforms in the United States through a genealogy of experimental, pilotless planes flown between 1936 and 1992. Characteristics often attributed to the drone—including machine-like control, enmity and remoteness—are achieved by displacements between humans and machines that shape a mediated theater of war. Rather than primarily treating the drone as a result of the war on terror, this book examines contemporary targeted killing through a series of failed experiments to develop unmanned flight in the twentieth century. The human, machine and media parts of drone aircraft are organized to make an ostensibly not human framework for war that disavows its political underpinnings as technological advance. These experiments are tied to histories of global control, cybernetics, racism and colonialism. Drone crashes and failures call attention to the significance of human action in making technopolitics that comes to be opposed to “man” and the paradoxes at their basis.

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