Call: ‘As Above, So Below: Drone Culture’ – Special issue of Culture Machine

As Above, So Below: Drone Culture
Special issue of Culture Machine, Vol.16 (2015)
Edited by Rob Coley and Dean Lockwood (University of Lincoln, UK)

The colloquium, ‘As Above, So Below’, held at the University of Lincoln in May 2014, proved the topic of drone culture to be a productive and resonant point of access for discussions of novel forms of life, power, and social and cultural logics in the twenty-first century. The 2015 special issue of the peer-reviewed open access journal, Culture Machine, will combine papers commissioned from selected speakers at the colloquium together with new contributions. We are particularly keen to gather international perspectives.

The implications of the drone are still unfolding, however its valence as, in Benjamin Noys’s words, the ‘signature device of the present moment’ is indisputable. Certain discourses, practices and lines of investigation are already established. As Noys notes, above all, a certain theological and metaphysical attitude to the drone – a myth of the drone, foregrounding its ‘God-like’ powers of search and destroy, troubling in its militaristic techno-fetishism – has come to dominate discussion, with interlocutors either wishing to celebrate or critique and demystify such claims for drone power.

What is at stake in our ‘desire for the drone’? How might we engage with such refrains in the interests of resistance? What transformative energies does the phenomenon of the drone exert upon philosophy, media, aesthetics, social and cultural theory, literature and history and how might these disciplines, in and across and between themselves, direct their own energies back upon the drone? We are familiar with some of the more recognizable manifestations of the drone, a list which includes the diffusion of the conventional battlefield, the supposed precision of surgical strikes, and the peculiarities of such a ‘remote’ system of seeing and killing from thousands of miles away. These are the activities of a power that remains largely invisible, for political as much as technical reasons. There is, then, a certain paradox to drone culture: the drone communicates something that must not be communicated. The drone is redacted: hidden in plain sight, present but opaque. Accordingly, though we can describe a culture in which the drone, and the consequences of the drone, are normalized, are integral to an increasingly dominant logic of power, the task of expressing this culture in its material, experiential terms proves to be more difficult. How do we engage with a phenomenon that is simultaneously invisible and utterly visible? How do we map the middleness of this experience?

We invite contributions on such topics as:

  • Drone metaphysics
  • Drone fiction
  • Drone sorcery, magic and glamour
  • Occultural theory
  • De-Westernizing drone rhetoric and discourse
  • Drone temporalities: speed and accelerationism
  • Vectoral power: mediation and middleness
  • Thanatopolitics

Please submit your contributions including contact details to Rob Coley ( and Dean Lockwood (

The deadline for submission of articles of 5000-7000 words is 19th December 2014. If you wish to discuss potential contributions ahead of submitting completed articles, please feel free to contact the editors.

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