More-than-Human Worlds of Violence: Section of the European International Studies Association's Annual Convention,23-6 Sept 2015

full name / name of organization: 
Audra Mitchell, University of York

Violence is almost always framed as a dynamic that arises between human subjects. Nonhumans are usually treated as its instruments, its passive objects, and/or the background against which it unfurls. For instance, nonhumans may be instrumentalized as weapons, backgrounded as conditions of combat or identified as sites of damage (as opposed to harm). However, emerging discourses on 'posthumanist' international relations challenge the anthropocentric ontology that produces these assumptions. Insights from new materialism, animal studies, the environmental humanities, science and technology studies, and other fields have helped to reframe nonhumans as 'lively' presences in world politics. From the role of animals in warfare to drone surveillance to the ethics of mass extinction, they illuminate the ways in which nonhumans are integral to various modes of violence. Specifically, they suggest that nonhumans embody, transform and produce specific forms and modalities of violence that cannot be reduced to human agency or subjectivity. This line of thought raises a number of important questions. For instance, (in what ways) can nonhumans be subjects, objects, actants or sites of violence? What specific forms of violence do nonhumans participate in and produce? What ethical implications might arise from an ontology of violence attuned to these capacities of nonhumans? And how might such an ontology reshape the concept of violence? "More-than-human Worlds of Violence" will explore these themes through a series of five sessions (four panels and a roundtable).

Please note that this is an interdisciplinary conference and section. As such, submissions are particularly encouraged from disciplines other than international relations/international studies, and from interdisciplinary researchers. Submissions are sought from researchers of all career stages, including (post)graduate students.