13 February 2020

International and Interdisciplinary speakers at the Aesthetics of Drone Warfare Conference

Over two days from 7-8 February 2020, about 45 attendees from at least 7 countries gathered at the Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield, to present papers and discuss issues surrounding drones and drone warfare through the prism of aesthetics--aesthetics as art, and as the relationship between embodied experience and the material environment.

Derek Gregory and Adam Piette

Disciplines represented included history, geography, law, international relations, literature, linguistics, visual arts, journalism, cultural anthropology, and architecture. Topics ranged from the use of drone technology in a biomedical, pill sized camera, called PillCam; the reasons why objective surveillance footage can be susceptible to individual subjectivities and biases; the way drones feature in contemporary Palestinian literature; the challenges of thinking about autonomous warfare within international human rights law; and the emotional attachments that drone hobbyists have for play drones.

There were two keynotes by distinguished guests: Professor Derek Gregory from the University of British Columbia, and Dr Antoine Bousquet from Birkbeck, University of London. In addition to the research presentations, there was an art exhibition which showcased the work of two of the artist-researchers, Joseph DeLappe and Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox, at the conference; this portion was open to the general public in Jessop West foyer. There was also a pre-conference workshop, led by the non-profit organisation Drone Wars UK, who shared their research methodologies for bridging research with activist work. 

This event was sponsored by a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award held by Dr Beryl Pong.