Delivering life, delivering death: reaper drones, hysteria and maternity

Clark, Lindsay C (2022) Delivering life, delivering death: reaper drones, hysteria and maternity. Security Dialogue, 53 (1). pp. 75-92. ISSN 0967-0106

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Like all warfare, drone warfare is deeply gendered. This article explores how this military technology sediments or disrupts existing conceptualizations of women who kill in war. The article using the concept of motherhood as a narrative organizing trope and introduces a ‘fictional’ account of motherhood and drone warfare and data from a ‘real life’ account of a pregnant British Reaper operator. The article considers the way trauma experienced by Reaper drone crews is reported in a highly gendered manner, reflecting the way women’s violence is generally constructed as resulting from personal failures, lost love and irrational emotionality. This irrational emotionality is tied to a long history of medicalizing women’s bodies and psychologies because of their reproductive capacities and, specifically, their wombs – explored in this article under the historico-medical term of ‘hysteria’. The article argues that where barriers to women’s participation in warfare have, in the past, hinged upon their (argued) physical weakness, and where technology renders these barriers obsolete, there remains the tenacious myth that women are emotionally incapable of conducting lethal operations – a myth based on (mis)conceptions of the ‘naturalness’ of motherhood and the feminine capacity to give life.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2022 11:22
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2022 12:05

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