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The UCSB brown-bag forum on spatial thinking presents

Lisa Parks

Film and Media Studies, UCSB

Drones, Media, and Mobility in the Horn of Africa

Phelps Hall 3512
12:00 p.m. Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Parks1Abstract. Since 2002 the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and CIA have orchestrated a covert drone war from Camp Lemonier in the African country of Djibouti, monitoring and striking alleged Al Qaeda and Al-Shabaab suspects in Yemen and Somalia. Building on recent work the politics of vertical space, this paper analyzes US drone operations in the Horn of Africa region. As a media scholar, I am interested both in the discourses people use to expose such covert US drone interventions and in the ways drones themselves function as technologies of mediation. In this paper, I explore the drone’s mediating work through three registers: the infrastructural, the perceptual, and the forensic. Drawing upon media such as training manual diagrams, infrared images, Google Earth interfaces, and drone crash scene photos I describe how dangerous practices of mobility, including mobile phone use, are in a region of Africa that has become central to US counterterrorism efforts.

Lisa Parks, Ph.D. is Professor of Film and Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara, where she is currently the Director of the Center for Information Technology and Society. Parks has conducted research on uses of media and information technologies in different national contexts, most recently in Zambia. Her work is highly interdisciplinary and engages with fields such as geography, international relations, communication, and art. Parks is the author of Cultures in Orbit: Satellites and the Televisual (Duke UP, 2005), Vertical Mediation and the War on Terror (forthcoming), and Mixed Signals: Media Infrastructures and Cultural Geographies (in progress). She is co-editor of: Signal Traffic: Critical Studies of Media Infrastructures (U of Illinois, 2015), Down to Earth: Satellite Technologies, Industries and Cultures (Rutgers UP, 2012), and Planet TV: A Global Television Reader (NYU, 2003). Parks has held visiting appointments at the Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg) in Berlin, McGill University, University of Southern California, and the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She has delivered invited lectures in more than twenty-five countries and is currently a PI on two major research grants, one from the National Science Foundation and another from the US State Department.

The objectives of the ThinkSpatial brown-bag presentations are to exchange ideas about spatial perspectives in research and teaching, to broaden communication and cooperation across disciplines among faculty and graduate students, and to encourage the sharing of tools and concepts.
Please contact Andrea Ballatore (893-5267, aballatore@spatial.ucsb.edu) to review and schedule possible discussion topics or presentations that share your disciplinary interest in spatial thinking.