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20 Griffith L. Rev. 931 (2011)
Prosthetics of Law and the Anomic Violence of Drones

handle is hein.journals/griffith20 and id is 941 raw text is: PROSTHETICS OF LAW AND THE ANOMIC VIOLENCE OF DRONES
Joseph Pugliese*
This article examines the relationship between law and
technology in the context of the use of drones by the United
States in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan. Specifically, I
examine the relation of law to lethal unmanned aerial combat
technologies (drones), which conduct war and killing at a
distance, in the context of two seemingly opposed figures: the
parenthetical and the prosthetic. The parenthetical relation of
law to technology operates to suspend the relation between the
executioner who manipulates the killing technology of the
drone from the fact of the resultant execution. In this scenario,
law is conceived of in the most radically instrumental of
understandings: it enables and legitimates the execution while
simultaneously suspending the connection between the doer
and the deed. The prosthetic relation of law to technology is,
conversely, premised on the indissociable articulation between
technology and its seeming opposite: the biological human
subject. Through a series of instrumental mediations, the
biological human actor becomes coextensive with the drone
that she or he pilots from the remote ground control station. I
examine the use of drones by the United States in the context
of the war on terror in order to bring into focus the mutation of
robotic war into a type of normalised civic practice. I close the
article by refocusing on the relation between law and
technology, and in the process I attempt to extrapolate a
general theory of law as prosthetic.
The categories of 'law' and 'technology' would seem to be at once non-
interchangeable and conceptually distinct. In reductive terms, law can be
said simply to act instrumentally on its various technologised agents. In this
essay, I problematise this dualistic understanding by theorising the relation
of law and technology as indissociably prosthetic. My theorisation of law as
prosthetic will be situated in the context of the use of unmanned aerial
combat vehicles, such as Predator and Reaper drones, by the United States in
its pursuit and extermination of so-called 'insurgents' and 'terror suspects'.
Theorising law as prosthetic - that is, as inextricably entwined with
technology from its originary enunciation through the technology of
language - enables the disclosure of complex dynamics of power, disavowal
and violence.
Discipline Leader of Cultural Studies and Associate Professor in the Department of
Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies, Macquarie University. My sincere
thanks to Constance Owen for her generous, invaluable and tireless research assistance.

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