Kevin McSorley- War, Archives and Embodiment

War, archives and embodiment
Kevin McSorley –University of Portsmouth, UK
This paper explores the intersections of archives, algorithms, bodies and sensations in the prosecution and experience of late modern war. It initially traces so me of the histories and regimes of military intelligence, sensing and record-keeping through which particular desires for environmental awareness and forms of martial power have been constituted and resisted. It then turns to the increasing transformation of intelligence agencies into big data organisations oriented around principles of associative traceabilitygranular targeting and the pre-emptive sensing of signs of emergent threat and enmity. It explores how the affordances, rationalities and ideologies of data mining, pattern recognition and machine learning are reshaping the imaginaries, practices and experiences of contemporary war in particular theatres. The paper draws attention to some of the acute ethico-political issues of uncertainty, friction, apophenia, and transparency that accompany such transformations in the sensate and archival regimes of contemporary war. War's effects are also continuously and injuriously archived and memorialised in the bodies of its victims. The paper thus finally focusses upon the sensory phenomenology and embodied experiences associated with a particular instantiation of late modern warfare. Here, the modes of embodiment are radically disjunctive, the woundscapes of conflict are profoundly asymmetric, and the associated affective mediation of bodily violation does not substantiate any ending to the conflict but rather its continuation in a processual, sustainable and increasingly post-political mode.
Kevin McSorley is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Portsmouth, UK. He is
the editor of War and the Body (Routledge 2013). His research is concerned with exploring
war, violence and militarism through the lens of embodied, emotional and sensory experiences. His work has analysed conflicts including Chechnya,
Iraq and Afghanistan, and has encompassed topics including the lived experiences of war and the afterlives of conflict,militarism and physical culture, wargames, and technologies and techniques of military sensation. He is currently working on the monograph Sensing War.