The Craft of Writing
R1B-007 | CCN: 41031
Technopolitics and War
Instructor: Anooj Kansara & William Morgan
Carl von Clausewitz famously wrote that “war is a continuation of politics by other means.” Following Michel Foucault, we will ask whether we ought to invert this formula to apprehend better the relations of forces at play across society and grasp “politics as the continuation of war by other means.” How might we rethink the (in)distinction of war and politics historically, in this conjuncture, and for other possible futures? This course will focus on the importance of the question of ‘means’ here: the means, techniques, weapons, and technologies of politics and warfare. After examining the conceptual architecture of warfare, politics, and governance, we will interrogate their infusion with technological logics and devices. We will study theories, historical texts, and timely documents investigating the origins and conducts of combat, control, and resistance. While new technologies in the age of intelligent machines demand our urgent attention today, techno-logics and technical devices have long suffused our thinking about, conduct of, and attempts to prevent war, far before the arrival of drones or autonomous weapons. If the forms of warfare we witness today are not in fact departures from – but are rather continuations of – previously inscribed technological ways of thinking war, then this course will attempt to chart the evolution of these forms of thought and consider their potential implications for a future politics.
Throughout this course we will conduct parallel investigations into warfare’s relationship to the “homeland,” focusing in particular on how domestic populations become militarized in support of violence abroad. We will develop a theoretical language for expressing the relationship between media consumption and these forms of technologized violence, asking how populations consume images of warfare, and to what end. Finally, we will conclude with reflections on how we might rethink warfare and "the political," with particular emphasis on how that rethinking might be possible in an age of information and algorithms.
We will develop research and argumentative skills through our exploration of theoretical and historical texts that revolve around technology, politics and warfare. We will build on the skills already acquired in the R1A course and introduce new skills for conducting research; evaluating and engaging with outside sources; and composing progressively longer papers that cite those sources. Writing assignments will include short in-class and online writing exercises, peer-review, a midterm paper, an annotated bibliography, and a 10-12 page final paper. The midterm and the final papers will include a research component for which students will need to independently consult and engage with secondary materials outside of the course reader.