Seeing and Unmaking Civilians in Afghanistan: Visual Technologies and Contested Professional Visions
Science, Technology & Human Values (2017 Forthcoming)
37 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 21, 2017
This article examines the politics of 'seeing' civilians in Afghanistan with a focus on the 2009 Kunduz air strike. Drawing on the literature on professional vision and professional knowledges, I ask how divergences in the 'ways of seeing' between different professional communities can be explained, and how they are resolved in practice. 'Seeing,' I argue, is based on talking. The vocabularies with which we describe the world and understand our relationships shape how we 'see'. As a consequence, Afghans gathered around a truck can appear an 'immediate threat' or not -- depending on the ideological prisms at work. The article suggests that we need to treat professional vision as necessarily contested and examine how professionals are socialized into accepting one way of seeing as valid. Seeing is based on talking, and we need to talk about how we see (violence).
Keywords: professional vision, knowledges, science, technology, International Humanitarian law, visuality, civilians, combatants, racism, bodies
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