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University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies


Posthuman War: Race, Gender, Technology, and the Making of U.S. Military Futures

Supervisor: Dr Lauren Wilcox (University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies)


My doctoral research examines drone warfare, the production of Special Operations Forces, and innovations in the medical treatment of war-related trauma. I draw these together to propose they may be read as indicative of a larger “Posthuman Project” that is driving technological developments and practice in the U.S. military. Through a critical race theory and feminist war studies framework, I theorize this military posthumanity as a fantasy vision of future invulnerability, total knowledge, and control that is inseparable from fantasies of white supremacy that make up the foundations of U.S. empire. I argue that in this context, the posthuman as well as the human remain exclusionary political categories that have their sense made through processes of gendering and racialization, in spite of military discourses of technologically-enabled apoliticality and progress away from human fallibility. In the course of examining the three case studies, my research finds that the state wields the categories of human and posthuman as tools to justify and naturalize empire and war-waging, and in so doing it justifies and naturalizes race and gender as tools of oppression. This ultimately reveals the malleability of these categories, and demonstrates the extent to which harnessing this malleability is a powerful way of making state power itself seem necessary and inevitable. My work seeks to contribute to recent discussions about how race and gender produce warfare, and likewise have their sense made through acts of war and the development and deployment of advanced technologies. Similarly, by excavating the violence of the “human” throughout, this work suggests to critical scholars ways of thinking about the posthuman that do not lose sight of the inherent violence of such categories.