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Drone-Cinema, Data Practices, and the Developing New Scope of IHL Jurisdiction
This paper explores the role of cinematic representations of lawfare in shaping and disseminating the jurisdiction of humanitarian law (IHL) through advanced military technologies and data practices. Taking the 2015 British thriller ‘Eye in the Sky’ as an instance of a dominant representation of lawfare, I analyse how this representation strengthens and reaffirms misconceptions about IHL and the bureaucracy of killing. As a popular culture product – and one that is embraced by various IHL experts and organisations – ‘Eye in the Sky’ participates in the ethical, legal, and political debates about advanced military technologies, and establishes mundane data practices as a system of knowledge production through which IHL exercises its jurisdiction over facts, people, and spaces. In particular, the paper analyses how ‘Eye in the Sky’s representations of IHL’s data practices strengthen and reinforce a particular IHL narrative, which is consistent with Western countries’ narrative about their existing counterterrorism practices and their bureaucracy of killing. Based on studies from law, sociology, and communication, this paper answers the following three questions: (i) who is given the power to speak IHL (and who is not)? (ii) To whom is IHL speaking? And (iii) how do data practices shape IHL’s jurisdiction? The paper concludes that ‘Eye in the Sky’ speaks international law through the voices of drone-owning nations, and is directed to their mass publics, legitimising the existing bureaucracy of killing. At the same time, it disguises normative choices as inevitable, and erases African decision-makers, communities, and perspectives.

Oct 19, 2021 03:00 PM in Pacific Time (US and Canada)

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