Drone Warfare and the Governing of Sacrifice
Baggiarini, Bianca Christina
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In this dissertation, I argue that drone warfare suggests a style of violence that always-already transcends the vulnerabilities of the citizen-soldier, burdening the relationship of citizen soldiering to sacrificial cults and idioms. As an archetype of citizenship, the citizen-soldier normalizes a belief that soldiers actions in wartime reflect the highest echelon of sacrifice. I claim that military sacrifice ought to be imagined as a political, paradoxical effect of the contradictions inherent to the neoliberal restructuring of capitalisms link to war. I advance a political-sociological approach to sacrifice by which to analyze the changing meaning of the status of the citizen-soldier archetype. Managing the paradox of sacrifice is a priority for Western liberal governments, who, being casualty-averse, aim to reconcile sovereign and biopolitical modes of power by subjecting sacrifice to governing logic. Here, I reveal the paradoxical effects of a liberal state that is both casualty averse, and engaged in prolonged high technology warfare. The paradox is about how to maintain the ideological, sociopolitical, and militarized conditions to simultaneously demand and deny sacrifice through a complex circumnavigation of bodily politics. I argue that sacrifice is disrupted along three interrelated themes, which all hinge on the sovereign and symbolic power associated with the archetype of the citizen-soldier: publicity, surplus, and embodiment. Pivoting on these themes, drone violence gains credibility through a dialectic of visibility (the battlefield) and invisibility (the violence) by rendering that which was previously unseen, visible. However, the sociopolitical landscape in which drone warfare operates, and gains credibility, is dependent upon the invisibilization of interrelated processesthe politics of emotional trauma, the scene of sacred violence, and the identification of the witness. I conclude that the end of conscription, coupled with neoliberal flexible citizenship, has troubled the content of military sacrifice and its ability to act as a check on violence. Rather than liberal democracys promise of a decline in violence, drone warfare contributes to the expansion of more, increasingly invisible, and therefore meaningless violence.