Visualisation & Targeting in Counterinsurgency
In this research I investigate how does the US counterinsurgent forces make distinction between civilians and combatants during targeting practices? I specially am interested in the visual dynamics of the contemporary targeting. In this research I argue that the insurgent's withdrawal from the obligation of visual self-identification as targets by not wearing military uniform reveals a complicated logic of target-ability in the laws of armed conflict (LOAC).
Focusing on the legal, political and visual functions of the military uniform I argue that LOAC legitimises lethal violence by reliance on a particular conception of human target that can be summarised as a nexus of ‘knowledge – contribution to adversarial militarised willpower – and Vision – material modes of visibility and invisibility’. This nexus of target-ability, I show, is exclusively enacted by the military uniform.The absence of the military uniform in insurgencies and the subsequent turn of the US military towards the use of technologies of visualisation for targeting purposes – in particular Disposition Matrix – are more than simply being ways of neutralising the invisibility of the insurgents; I argue are technologies deployed by the US to not only, as has already been argued by critics, to liberalise the geography, temporality or the ethics of targeting, but also to manufacture a claim of legitimacy for an expansive recasting of civilians as targets of lethal force. The function of the so-called hyper-visualisation technologies is indeed to make discriminate targeting, in its literal sense, possible. Yet this research is concerned with the capacity of these visual practices to present that targeting as a legitimate and legally defensible violence.
Recent research outputs
Research output: Thesis › Doctoral Thesis (monograph)