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Keynote Speakers

Professor Joseph Pugliese

Research Director, Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies, Macquarie University

Death by Metadata and Its Transliteration to Flesh

Drawing on the revelations of Edward Snowden and two former drone operators, in this paper I track the lines of convergence between the US Department of Defence (DoD) and the National Security Agency (NSA) in the conduct of the US drone kill program. In the first part of my paper, I focus on the development of new tracking technologies developed by the NSA that have been incorporated into the DoD’s drone targeting program. I examine the increasing reliance on advanced mathematical formulae in order track drone targets on kill lists and to establish a calculus of probability of hostile intent. My interest is in examining the interlocking of the NSA’s metadata with the algorithmic formulae that underpin the DoD’s drone program in order to conduct drone kills in which often the identities of those killed are not known. I situate what I will term the bioinformationisation of life within the geocorpographies of Pakistan and Yemen in order to disclose the transliteration of abstract metadata to flesh. In proceeding to analyse the bioinformationisation of life, I will also examine the ways in which the DoD’s increasing reliance on death by metadata is inscribed by a biopolitics that is predicated on anthropocentric hierarchies of life. I conclude the paper by staging a Nietzschean critique of the unexamined aesthetic dimensions that inscribe and constitute the techno-science of drone kills. The DoD’s regime of drone death by metadata, I contend, is located at the complex juncture where science folds into art. At this juncture, the apparatus of science discloses its tropic dependence on denegated aestheticising operations that work to deliver the “art of the drone kill.”

Professor Joseph Pugliese is Research Director of the Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies, Macquarie University. His most recent book, State Violence and the Execution of Law has been nominated for the UK’s Hart Socio-Legal Book Prize 2014, the US Law and Society Herbert Jacob Book Prize 2014, and the Council of Humanities and Social Sciences Australia Prize for a Book in the Humanities and Social Sciences 2014.

Associate Professor Jasbir K. Puar

Women's & Gender Studies, Rutgers University

The ‘Right’ to Maim: Disablement, Palestine, and Disaster Capitalism

This talk looks at the productivity of disablement as a war tactic of the Israeli state in Gaza and the West Bank. It argues for a revisioning of biopolitics that accounts for maiming as a goal of settler colonialism that defies easy demarcations between making live and letting die. Such an analysis complicates recent debates about the function of "collateral damage" by mining the schism between targeting to kill and targeting to disable.

Jasbir K. Puar is Associate Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies at Rutgers University. She has also been a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Performance Studies at NYU and a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry in Berlin. Puar is the author of Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (Duke University Press 2007), which won the 2007 Cultural Studies Book Award from the Association for Asian American Studies. Puar’s forthcoming monograph, Affective Politics: States of Debility and Capacity (Duke University Press, 2014) takes up questions of disability in the context of theories of bodily assemblages that trouble intersectional identity frames.

Associate Professor Jacinta Ruru

Faculty of Law, University of Otago

Troubled Space: Tensions in Indigenous and colonial notions of national space

This talk addresses ‘seeing the trouble with space’ through an Indigenous lens to illustrate how law and politics frame space and geography in racialised ways. I argue that space has been used globally as a colonial nation building tool to overlay the lived homes of Indigenous peoples. The present reconciliation initiatives in countries like Aotearoa New Zealand and Canada partly recognise the fiction of colonial space through Crown apologies and provisions for some Indigenous economic and cultural opportunities. But can space simply be understood within the framework of power? Tinkering with Indigenous representation and recognition rights may not result in a reconciled future. Nation states need to address the deeper tensions in space and consider broadly the implications of the legal foundations built upon the magic of colonial space and place.

Associate Professor Jacinta Ruru teaches and researches Indigenous peoples’ legal rights to own and manage lands and waters at the Faculty of Law, University of Otago. Her national and international collaborative work spans multidisciplinary understandings of Indigenous and colonial 'power, place and space' dichotomies in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, North America and Scandinavia.

Associate Professor Susan Stryker

Director of the Institute for LGBT Studies, University of Arizona

Otherwise that Analogy: The Paralogous Relations of Transgender, Ethnicity, and Color in Regimes of Biopolitical Racialization

Careful attention to Foucault’s biopolitical paradigm, bearing in mind some of Alexander Weheliye’s recent critiques, allows us to draw connections—which have nothing to do with ‘comparison’ or ‘analogy’—between critical race studies and transgender studies, and between bodies marked as ‘of color’ and as ‘transgendered’. Such connections suggest thinking of different modes of ‘operating’ biopolitically on different aspects of embodiment as ‘paralogous’ rather than improperly analogical. They allow us to talk about racialization as involving not only phenotype or ethnicity, but also the taking up of other bodily attributes that likewise become the basis for subjecting categories of people to sociogenic criteria for disselecting supposedly dysgenic members from a population.

Susan Stryker is Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, as well as Director of the Institute for LGBT Studies. She also holds a courtesy appointment as Associate Professor in the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences. She is an internationally recognised activist and scholar on transgender and queer topics. She won a Lambda Literary Award for the anthology The Transgender Studies Reader (Routledge 2006), and an Emmy Award for the documentary film Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria (Frameline/ITVS 2005). She is the Director of the Somatechnics Research Centre and is the founding editor (along with Professor Paisley Currah) of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly.

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