In the 21st century, fictions have increasingly been co-opted as tools of war. Imagined scenarios and virtual worlds now shape how wars are prepared, waged, and processed. The military has thus co-opted a field one rarely associates with war - the field of aesthetics. A number of concepts that traditionally belong to the theory of art and representation have migrated into the military sphere and gained a new urgency. Thus, fictionality, experience, realism, suspension of disbelief, among others, have become central to contemporary warfare. At the same time the aesthetic fields themselves have reacted to the militarization of aesthetics. Literature, art, film and theater have in different ways sought to reclaim the critical potential of art. The project examines this merger of war and aesthetics in the 21st century. Even though the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria have led scholars to reflect anew on what a humanistic approach may offer for the study of war, a basic aesthetic theory of contemporary warfare is lacking. The project aims to build it.
The leader of the CWS War and Culture section Anders Engberg-Pedersen has just won 3.230.385 kr funding from the Velux Foundation for his research project ‘The Aesthetics of Late Modern War’