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The Territory of the Screen

Derek Gregory


Taking Owen Sheers’s novel, I Saw a Man and its representation of a drone strike in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas as its point of departure, this essay explores three ways in which the killing of an individual from thousands of miles away depends upon a series of screens through which the United States asserts, enacts, and enforces a claim over bodies-in-spaces. These are all nominally technical practices—kill lists; signals intercepts; visual feeds—whose supposed objectivity works to underwrite targeted killing as a rational and reasonable process. But they can each be read instead as part of a political technology that produces and executes ‘killable bodies’. Seen thus, the ‘territory of the screen’ diminishes and even de-materializes the corporeality of the human targets that eventually appear in its sights.


drones; Federally Administered Tribal Areas; targeted killing; political technology; Owen Sheers; I Saw a Man; War on Terror

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