War in the Age of the Smartphone w/ Andrew Hoskins and Matthew Ford

30 Sep 2022 – 12:00 BST
National Army Museum and online
Royal Hospital Road

Join Professor Andrew Hoskins and Dr Matthew Ford as they discuss how digital devices have shaped the ways in which contemporary war is viewed, understood and fought.

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. Now everyone can participate in war, whether they are propagandising from home or taking pictures of enemy tank movements on the front lines.

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 individuals they suspect have used these devices to film their movements.

Spread unevenly across multiple online platforms, user-created images and commentary have generated 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 highly relevant talk, Professor Andrew Hoskins and Dr Matthew Ford will examine how the proliferation of ‘smart’ devices is impacting those on the ground, re-writing the war-media production cycle, and shaping our understanding of modern conflict.

About the book

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

Dr Matthew Ford is an Associate Professor at the Swedish Defence University in Stockholm. His first book, Weapon of Choice: Small Arms and the Culture of Military Innovation, was published in 2017.

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

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