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Drone/Body: the Drone’s Power to Sense and Construct Emergencies

When: Monday, November 5, 2018 at 14:00 - 15:30
Where: Mødelokale M

At the same time, drones are increasingly promoted as a tool that eventually outperforms human physical capacities: it is better suited than the human body to oversee emergency situations. These functionalities are largely discussed as intimately linked to the visual. The drone, however, offers more than new lines of sight: it hears sounds that may point to danger, it feels radiation, smells chemicals and interprets data.

This talk explores these ‘better-than-body’ functions with respect to their potential to foster an argument about benevolent drone deployment in emergencies. More than that, it asks how the dynamic development of this sensing technology and the functioning of the drone as a ‘quasi-body’ actually change emergency management altogether. Building on theories that acknowledge the formative power of technology, this talk fleshes out to what extent the drone’s sensing capabilities influence the construction of emergency situations and the human body. It describes how the drone combines electronic sensing capabilities with heightened mobility and the political economy of data collection and computation, through which it eventually contributes to the construction of what an emergency actually is. Sponsored by the DFF Network on Drones and Aesthetics. Organized by Kathrin Maurer (

Mareile Kaufmann has been studying digital technologies for almost a decade. She has a background in cultural studies and criminology and is a post doc at IKRS working on the way in which digital technologies change and challenge surveillance practices. She also is a senior researcher at PRIO. She has edited special issues on Resilience and (In)security, Politics and ‘the digital’ and Doing and Mediating Critique and is the author of Resilience, Emergencies and the Internet: Security In Formation. Mareile heads the Critical Data Network, an initiative that seeks to understand the critical importance of digital information - from a critical perspective.