Spectres of War
Conference by Caroline Holmqvist, REPI / Researcher at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI) / Senior Lecturer at the Swedish Defence University
Discussant: Christophe Wasinski, REPI-ULB
@ IEE, 39 avenue F. D. Roosevelt, 1050 Bruxelles, Spaak Room, 12:00 - 2:00 p.m.
Abstract: Although life and death are central to war, inquiry into the forms of life and death enabled by war is strangely elided in conventional accounts of war: ‘war’ is taken as a discrete and finite event, and recordings of life/death as statistical absolutes. This text draws on Jacques Derrida’s writings on spectrality to suggest that the category of “war” as such – the modern idea of war as a finite event – haunts our ability to come to terms with the dispersed wars of our time. This claim is substantiated by an inquiry into the relationship between the body/bodies of contemporary war and the production of the human as political subject (Judith Butler; Adriana Caravero, Maurice Merleau-Ponty). With bodies that are at once absent/present, visible/invisible; undone through excessive violence or ‘killed’ even in their absence, contemporary war renders the human subject spectral – and this, in turn, impedes our understanding of war in political terms.