War on Terror

Theory and Criticism 9609 [B] 

Professor Nandita Biswas Mellamphy

Course Outline

What happens when war and militarization extend out of the space of the battlefield and become integrated into the civilian space of everyday life? Just as we have witnessed the global integration of information, communication, and trade which are no longer confined by territorial boundaries, so too can 'war' be seen as no longer confined to its classic theatre of operation, the battlefield. Today, in combination with the technological and informational revolutions characteristic of the 21st century, the governance of terror in the name of security has effectively led to the tactical and indefinite extension of war into all spheres of life.  This course seeks to investigate from a theoretical standpoint the changing nature of the concept of 'war' and proposes to study 'terror' both as an historical mode of warfare, as well as a new globalized phenomenon within the domain of what today is called the ' global war on terror'. The main issue to be examined concerns the extent to which the 'war on terror' (and the new security paradigm it propagates) entails re-articulations of both the 'agent of terror' and the political 'subject of terror'.   The course material centers on a growing interdisciplinary field of scholarship that researches the problematization of politics, security and war from the perspective of international political theory, philosophies of information and bio-technology, continental philosophy, as well as postmodern and poststructuralist critiques of the political subject and political power.

Tentative Reading List:

  • Paul Virilio, Popular Defense and Ecological Struggles
  • Michel Foucault, Society Must Be Defended
  • Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire.
  • Adam Roberts, The New Model Army.
  • Manuel De Landa, War in the Age of Intelligent Machines
  • Manabrata Guha, Reimagining War in the 21st Century: From Clausewitz to Network-Centric Warfare;
  • Carl von Clausewitz, On War
  • Reza Negarestani, Cyclonopedia and “The Militarization of Peace”
  • Gilles Deleuze, “The War Machine” and “Societies of Control”
  • Antoine Bousquet, The Scientific Way of Warfare: Order and Chaos on the Battlefields of Modernity
  • Michael Dillon and Julian Reid, The Liberal War of War
  • Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political

The course materials will seek to elucidate the following concepts:

    • Larval Terror
    • Network-centric war
    • Real vs. Absolute war
    • Human terrain systems
    • Biopolitics, biopower
    • Disciplinary societies; Societies of control
    • Friend/Enemy
    • Asymmetric war; asymmetric enemy
    • Cyberwar; cyber-terrorism
    • Militarization of peace
    • Hyper-camouflage (and Taqqiya)