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Sabiha Allouche : How to talk about drones: a view from Gaza

Part of the IAIS Visiting Speaker Series

In this work, I attempt to decolonize the unchecked scholarship on drone warfare. From TV series, movies and video games, to textbooks, journal articles, and books; every space is apt for theorizing the drone. Although feminist and critical theorists took it upon themselves to rethink the drone and to intervene critically in their examination of it, their work, I argue, remains a self-contained theoretical loop that steers away from the original promise of Dona Haraway’s original Cyborg Manifesto since it is notoriously difficult to translate into feminist praxis. What's more, theirs is an approach that has legitimized abstraction and artificial lexicons to the extent they function as epistemic facts that overwrite matters of concerns. In particular, it speaks little to/of the lived reality - the quintessential feminist standpoint - of the Pakistani, Afghan and Gazan populations who encounter the drone daily.

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Sabiha is Lecturer in Middle East Politics at the University of Exeter. Previously, she filled the position of Senior Teaching Fellow at SOAS University of London, from where she obtained her PhD in Gender Studies. Sabiha is interested in bridging the gap between anthropological writing and political analysis. She has previously published on the affective making of the "Angry Arab Man" in mainstream US news and on the shortcomings of international asylum organizations in the context of self-identified LGBT Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Her forthcoming work engages the scholarship on queer futurity in order to conceive heterosexual inter-sectarian love as a queer affect in the context of Lebanon. Sabiha is on the advisory board of the journal Kohl: a Journal of Body and Gender Research.

This work is, in many ways, a remedying exercise. I offer a view of the drone from the Middle East, precisely from Gaza in the hope that it helps us interrogate the superiority of certain knowledges over others. The absence of a Gazan view from mainstream scholarly work on drone warfare reproduces colonial subject-object remnants on the one hand, and the supremacy of white academic gatekeepers on the other hand.

Far from erring abstraction, as the existing literature would have us believe, I read Atef Abu Saif’s novel, The Drone Eats With Me through Indigenous studies scholar Dian Million’s felt theory  in my re-reading of the drone, because it is capable of containing the affects and haptics and felt knowledges that accompany drone raids. Furthermore, I read Yasmeen Daifallah’s conceptualization of “post-decolonization” as an outwardly-oriented writing that is capable of closing the gap between the theory (white academia) and the theorized (the Gazan population).

Please join us in the IAIS Common Room for tea/coffee at 17:00.  Everyone is welcome and there is no need to register.


IAIS Building/LT1