“New Wars” and the Human Condition

Wednesday, 10 May 2017, 2:00pm - Thursday, 11 May 2017, 6:00pm, IWM library
In recent decades, there has been an increasing recognition among historians and political scientists concerning the advent of new configurations of warfare, commonly referred to as the New Wars. This concept registers a pervasive transformation in warfare that decisively breaks with traditional understandings of war:
On the one hand, the implementation of advanced technological means promises an almost clinical precision, invisibility and perfectibility of warfare as such. Drones that are steered by computers over long distances, robots and cyborgs that could take over essential parts of future warfare, or the technological armament and upgrade of the human body—all these issues raise questions that exceed the classical categories of human agency, responsibility and sovereignty.
On the other hand, the new wars indicate the proliferation of “dirty” warfare as the “new normalcy”: mutilations, mass rape, hunger camps, ethnic cleansing and genocidal violence were already widespread practices in the World Wars and/or the colonial wars—their massive return, however, adds an unprecedented quality and urgency to the related questions of racism, sexism and “atavistic” violence. The most troublesome insight in this regard might be that modernity does not necessarily mean the overcoming of such practices but, to some extent, adds to their proliferation and acceleration.
The main aim of the workshop will be to explore these two seemingly divergent, yet closely interrelated phenomena. By examining the role of the “new wars” with regard to recent developments in technology, law, and its broader moral and societal interpretations, the workshop tries to open the field for a systematic study of these phenomena. This will include contributions from various disciplines such as cultural anthropology, sociology, political science, social psychology, history, or peace studies, relating these findings to the fundamental question of how the “new wars” affect today’s understanding of the human condition. As a result, it will question all too one-sided moralist interpretations of the “new wars” in global media and instead try to define their special role in a world violently torn between the promises of globalization and the uncertainties of local identities.

[Detailed Program of the Workshop]

Limited seats for observers at the workshop are available. If you are interested to attend the workshop as an observer, please email Luise Wascher: wascher@iwm.at. Please give your affiliation and briefly explain your interest in the event. Participation is pending on prior approval by the academic organisers, which you will receive by email. Deadline for application: Tuesday, May 2.

Keynote Speech
Mary Kaldor
New Wars as a Social Condition
May 10, 2017, 6:00pm

In cooperation with Hamburger Institut für Sozialforschung (HIS)