Dreaming with drones:Palestine under the shadow of unseen war

Kanwal, A. (2022) Dreaming with drones:Palestine under the shadow of unseen war. Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 57 (1). pp. 240-258. ISSN 0021-9894

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This article discusses how the first-person genre, especially a Gazan wartime diary, allows both writer and reader to imagine new possibilities for understanding contemporary colonial drone warfare, which is instrumental in the strategic silencing and invisibilization of war victims. By creating this zone of invisibilization (one that I will name the “dronesphere”) through obfuscating loss of life, war perpetrators aim to drown out the voices of opposition and resistance in Gaza. This is precisely why an increasing autonomy of military technologies that I call the “anthropomorphizing of drones” has triggered fierce debates over the unaccountability for war crimes committed against those on the receiving end of such autonomous weaponry. One specific case that deserves serious attention in this regard is the deafening silence surrounding Israel’s use of lethal drones to assassinate people in Palestine, which has led to the strategic silencing and invisibility of Palestinian deaths and a struggle for survival through the use of top-down control via drones in the region. However, Atef Abu Saif’s use of “strategic anthropomorphism” in his wartime diary The Drone Eats with Me: A Gaza Diary does not grant the drone absolute autonomy in death-dealing but imagines Drone as a fictional character. Instead, the execution of Gazans is presented as a prolonged reconnaissance performance, which not only allows Gazans to see drones as an extension of (absent) drone operators’ bodies, but also to register their protest against the Israeli authorities by imagining Drone as a living entity. Therefore, using the authority of direct experience that Youval Noah Harari calls “flesh witnessing” (2008), Abu Saif’s wartime diary enables the formation of Palestinian subjectivities held under the sign of erasure, thereby claiming their rights as social and political human bodies. © The Author(s) 2020.

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Journal of Commonwealth Literature
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01 Oct 2020 14:25
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21 Sep 2023 02:59