Ukraine, Connectivity and the Future of War w/ Matthew Ford and Andrew Hoskins

10 Jun 2022 – 16:00 - 17:00 (BST)
RUSI (online event)

Join Dr Matthew Ford (University of Sussex) and Professor Andrew Hoskins (Glasgow University) to discuss their new co-authored book Radical War: Data, Attention and Control in the 21st Century.


The war in Ukraine is the most connected war in history. An estimated 85% of Ukrainians have an active mobile-broadband subscription. It is the first state-on-state war in Europe that is entirely mediated by digital technology. In this talk, we use the smartphone to show how the war-media production cycle has been re-written by digital devices. Now everyone can participate in war, whether they are propagandising from home or on the frontlines taking pictures of enemy tank movements.

Smartphones have been used by civilians to help the Ukrainian armed forces gather and fuse intelligence for targeting and battle damage assessment. The Russians have made a point of picking out those individuals who they suspect have used these devices to film their movements. Spread unevenly across multiple online platforms, user-created images and commentary have created a huge digital archive that might eventually come to inform war crimes tribunals. How we make sense of this material and use it to write a history of the war in Ukraine demands careful thought. In this talk, we examine the distorting prisms of war in the 21st century and the way they complicate our capacity to make sense of future conflict.

The event will be chaired by Nick Reynolds, Research Analyst, Land Warfare, RUSI.
About Radical War

This book examines the digital explosion that has ripped across the battlefield, weaponising our attention and making everyone a participant in wars without end.

‘Smart’ devices, apps, archives and algorithms remove the bystander from war, collapsing the distinctions between audience and actor, soldier and civilian, media and weapon. This has ruptured our capacity to make sense of war. Now we are all either victims or perpetrators.

In Radical War, Ford and Hoskins reveal how contemporary war is legitimised, planned, fought, experienced, remembered and forgotten in a continuous and connected way, through digitally saturated fields of perception.

Plotting the emerging relationship between data, attention and the power to control war, the authors chart the complex digital and human interdependencies that sustain political violence today. Through a unique, interdisciplinary lens, they map our disjointed experiences of conflict and illuminate this dystopian new ecology of war.

About the authors

Matthew Ford is Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of Sussex; founding editor of the British Journal for Military History; and author of Weapon of Choice.

Andrew Hoskins is Professor of Global Security, University of Glasgow; and founding editor of the journals Digital War; Memory, Mind & Media; and Memory Studies.

How to Attend

The event will be held online only. Please Register to attend by 9 June 2022. For any enquiries about this event, please contact Sabrina Downey, Events Director, at [email protected]

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