The English Faculty Forum is proud to present Dr. Jennifer S. Rhee, Assistant Professor of English, who will give a lecture on “Drone Warfare and Drone Art: Labor and Dehumanization in the Robotic Imaginary.”
Professor Rhee will present germinal research from her forthcoming book, All Too Human: Labor and Dehumanization in the Robotic Imaginary (University of Minnesota Press, 2018). In this talk, Rhee will trace connections between U.S. robotics technologies and cultural forms at the site of dehumanization and devalued labor. Rhee argues that the figure of the robot in contemporary culture and technology is largely shaped by the conceptions of the human, and more importantly of the dehumanized. Dehumanization has been entangled with labor exploitation from the first appearance of the robot in Karel Čapek’s 1920 play, R.U.R.: Rossum’s Universal Robots. Rhee looks specifically at the labor of drone operators and what she calls “drone art,” or contemporary artistic responses to drone warfare. Drawing on the racialized dimensions of early cybernetics military research, Rhee looks at drone art that responds to drone victims’ dehumanization by examining the limits of identification as a means to ethical response. Instead, drone art points to an understanding of the human through unrecognizability, difference, and unfamiliarity, rather than recognition, familiarity, and knowability.
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