Figuring ViolenceAffective Investments in Perpetual War

Figuring ViolenceAffective Investments in Perpetual War

Rebecca A. Adelman

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9780823281671

Publisher: Fordham University Press


Figuring Violence catalogs the affects that define the latter stages of the war on terror and the imaginative work that underpins them. These affects—apprehension, affection, admiration, gratitude, pity, and righteous anger—are far more pleasurable and durable than their predecessors. Hence, they are deeply compatible with the ambitions of a state embroiling itself in a perpetual and essentially unwinnable war. Surveying the cultural landscape of this sprawling conflict, Figuring Violence reveals the varied mechanisms by which these affects have been militarized. This book tracks their convergences around six types of beings: civilian children, military children, military spouses, veterans with PTSD and TBI, Guantánamo detainees, and military dogs. All of these groups have become preferred objects of sentiment in wartime public culture, but they also have in common their status as political subjects who are partially or fully unknowable. They become visible to outsiders through a range of mediated and imaginative practices that are ostensibly motivated by concern or compassion. However, these practices actually function to reduce these beings to abstracted figures and so make them easy targets for affective investment. This is a paradoxical and conditional form of recognition that eclipses the actual beings upon whom those figures are patterned, silencing their political subjectivities and obscuring their suffering. As a result, they are erased and rendered hypervisible at once. Figuring Violence demonstrates that this dynamic ultimately propagates the very militarism that begets their victimization.