Panel: Violence

Rethinking the War Machine: Remediations of Violence

Phil Kaffen, Postdoctoral Fellow in Cinema & Media Studies, University of Chicago

Max Ward, Assistant Professor of Japanese History at Middlebury College

Franz Prichard, Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University

Shota Ogawa, Ph.D. candidate, Visual and Cultural Studies, University of Rochester

Respondent: Michael Bourdaghs, University of Chicago

While discussions around remediation in the humanities tend to revolve around questions of technology and technological images, remediation also lends itself to a broader set of problems, and perhaps nowhere is this more the case than with the problem of violence. The notion of the war machine with its interrelated problems of violence, technology, and sovereignty, could be a case in point. In one sense, could we not consider a state itself a remediation of violence? Or its extension through expansionist policies into the colonies another form?

At the same time, the past several decades have seen an overwhelming amount of writing on the ways the rapid development of technologies of warfare have possibly altered the very essence of war itself. More, insofar as much of what we see and know of the world comes through images of violence, whether in global art and genre film, or video games, for example, or in the news media, there is little doubt that these processes of remediation extend over an extraordinarily broad landscape. For many, this has led to a situation in which we can no longer think of violence and war as something that takes place and is then captured.

Instead, perhaps we must think of the media forms (and this may include law or the state form) themselves as complicit in the violence they present as exterior to themselves. Given such a congeries, any discussion of the remediation of violence necessitates a multi-faceted inquiry that traverses diverse fields and practices. To that end, this panel will address questions of violence, technology, and sovereignty from multiple perspectives and disciplines, including history, law, cinema, photography, literature, new media, and philosophy. Its historical time frame will run throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. While definitions may and presumably will vary considerably, we hope that the disjunctures will be as productive as the potential resonances.