CfP The Distributed Work of War and Security: Technology, Expertise and Legitimation

12. 11. 2019

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: The Distributed Work of War and Security: Technology, Expertise and Legitimation, at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 24 and 25 September 2020

In recent years, Western states have increasingly relied on remote and automated technologies to govern emerging threats that are largely outside of conventional warzones. Simultaneously, we have seen a ‘computational turn’ within security governance and a increasing reliance on biometrics, predictive analytics and algorithmic decision-making – both at the border and across the wider ‘homeland’. While contemporary warfare and practices of security are often said to be unmanned, automated or remote-controlled, a recent and empirically-grounded body of scholarship within science and technology studies, critical security studies and legal studies has emphasized how current military and security operations by Western states are labor-intensive, distributed across humans and humans and machines, and sustained by material and legal infrastructures as well as logics and practices that are deeply gendered and racialized. Following these contributions, this panel broadly focuses on the range of practices, actors and infrastructures that make contemporary war, security and particular forms of violence possible, actionable, and permissible.


We organize two panels at the PACS Conference 2020 for which we invite contributions from across the social sciences, international law and humanities. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • The role and enactment of technical or legal expertise in the conduct and legitimation of war or security;
  • Empirical inquiries into human-machine relations interactions in contemporary warfare or security practices;
  • Practices related to the design and development of technological warfare/security and the organization of violence;
  • Technology, militarism and the everyday;
  • The relationship between technology and secrecy, transparency and resistance.

We will use these panels as an authors’ workshop where work-in-progress and positioning papers are discussed. Eventually, we are aiming to publish the contributions in a special issue in an international peer-reviewed journal.


PACS Conference 2020
These panels are part of an interdisciplinary conference, organized by the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on 24-25 September 2020. PACS stimulates interdisciplinary collaboration between scholars who work on political violence, peace and conflict, from the fields of political science, law, history, psychology, theology and religious studies, criminology, sociology and anthropology. Next to a keynote and a plenary discussion, the conference is organized in four sections with one or two panels each that zoom in on ongoing research projects hosted by PACS. The sections include (1) Norm Violations and Punishment in International Politics; (2) Transgenerational Transfer of Trauma: The role of religion in the construction of post-conflict narratives; (3) The Social Ecology of Trust and Peace versus Distrust and Aggression; and (4) The Distributed Work of War and Security: Technology, Expertise and Legitimation


We invite 200 words abstracts plus short biographical notes by 29 November 2019. Please send your proposal to the conveners: Tanja Aalberts ( and Marijn Hoijtink (


There is no conference fee. Accommodation will be provided for paper givers.