Professor Derek Gregory

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Newman Collaborative Lecture Theatre (C/D)

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CANCELLED - Angry Eyes - the God-trick and the geography of militarised vision

Public lecture from Professor Derek Gregory

A Research Services research event
Date10 March 2015
Time18:00 to 19:00
PlaceNewman Collaborative Lecture Theatre (C/D)

Video linked to Daphne du Maurier Seminar F

Please note this event has been cancelled due to serious illness. We are hoping to reschedule at a later date and this page will be updated when the details have been confirmed.

Who should attend?

Everyone is welcome to attend this public lecture. 


  • How do politics and culture shape drone warfare?
  • Does military technology provide fully transparent vision?
  • How is visual information interpreted in military action?

Lecture abstract

Advocates have emphasised the ability of Predators and Reapers to provide persistent surveillance so that they become vectors of the desire to produce a fully transparent battlespace – a version of Haraway’s ‘God-trick’. Critics have insisted that vision is more than a biological-instrumental capacity, and that it is transformed into a conditional and highly selective visuality through the activation of a distinctively political and cultural technology.

My focus is on a US air strike in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province in February 2010; this has become the signature strike for critics, and it provides the ‘Prelude’ to Chamayou’s Théorie du drone. But all of these previous readings, including my own, provide a remarkably partial view of what happened. Although the strike was (in part) orchestrated by a Predator crew based in Nevada, it was carried out by two attack helicopters and involved, crucially, many other observers and commanders on the ground in Afghanistan who were calibrating the provision of close air support to a Special Forces operation.

To demonstrate the significance of this, I provide a close reading of the official US military investigations (not just the Predator crew transcript) released under the Freedom of Information Act.  And in order to open up the narrow focus on ‘Predator view’ I also situate what happened in Uruzgan in relation to two other air strikes: one in Kunduz in 2009 (in which no drones were involved) and the other in the Sangin Valley in April 2011(which was carried out by a drone).

My aim is to show that later modern war continues to rely on highly imperfect communications systems and that it involves a de-centralised, distributed and dispersed geography of militarised vision whose fields of view expand, contract and even close at different locations engaged in the administration of military violence.

Professor Derek Gregory

Derek Gregory is a member of the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia, which recruited him as a full Professor in 1989.  The University appointed him Peter Wall Distinguished Professor from 1 July 2011.

For details on Dr. Gregory's current work, please visit his blog Geographical Imaginations.

Dr. Gregory trained as an historical geographer at the University of Cambridge.  One year after his BA he was appointed University Assistant Lecturer in Geography and elected a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College.  Over the next sixteen years his research focused on the historical geography of industrialization and on the relations between social theory and human geography, using each program of research to inform and advance the other. He focused on processes of historical and geographical change – on periods of crisis and transformation – and explored a range of critical theories that showed how place, space, and landscape have been involved in the operation and outcome of social processes.


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ProviderResearch Services
OrganizerResearch and Knowledge Transfer Events

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