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Invited speech: From Posthumanitarian Targeting Practices to an International Posthumanitarian Law: Rethinking Law, Gender and the Human through Posthumanist Feminist Theory and Contemporary Intelligent Warfare Technologies

Conference contribution
Authors Matilda Arvidsson
Published in Invited speech, University of Technology Sydney the Feminist Legal Research Group and the International Law Research Cluster
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Law
Language en
Keywords Posthumanism, International Humanitarian Law, targeting, gender
Subject categories Law and Society, Robotics


Focusing on targeting practices in contemporary intelligent warfare, this talk brings international humanitarian legal scholarship into conversation with posthumanist feminist theory for the purpose of rethinking international humanitarian law (IHL) in terms of the posthuman condition. In the talk, traditional IHL targeting doctrine is explicated as hinging on stable gender dichotomies (male/combatant – female/civilian) whereas contemporary intelligent warfare, in contrast and in practice, concerns itself with the ‘posthuman’ or more-than-human converging material and digital ‘targetable’ body. Moreover, the practice of targeting in contemporary intelligent warfare is explained as carried out by similarly converging material human-machine and human-artificial intelligence entities (including drones, and practices of Big Data collection and neuro-enhancement). The latter bringing to the fore new questions and concerns of human/non-human accountability in warfare. In considering these posthuman intelligent warfare targeting practices and new ways of imagining ethical and legal norms of responsibility in the posthuman condition I argue that posthumanist feminist theory – in particular Rosi Braidotti’s scholarship – is useful. Her scholarship avails us of a much-needed critical position from which to reframe the question of the ‘human’ in ‘humanitarian’ international law, practice, and in terms of legal accountability. The aim of the talk is to bring to the fore the potentials and possibilities in thinking posthuman feminist ontology as a basis of a posthumanitarian international law and as a basis for relational accountability in posthuman intelligent warfare.

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