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  • 2020ryderphdinternal

    Accepted author manuscript, 3.71 MB, PDF document

    Available under license: CC BY-NC: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

  • 2020ryderphd

    Final published version, 3.72 MB, PDF document

    Available under license: CC BY-NC: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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Citizen robots: biopolitics, the computer, and the Vietnam period

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Published
Publication date26/02/2020
Number of pages279
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Thesis sponsors
  • AHRC
Award date26/02/2020
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The Vietnam War coincided with an intense period of technological change in the US that marked a significant turning point in the relationship between the citizen and the state. While computer technology found new and deadly uses on the field of battle, it also found its way into people’s homes, giving the state the means through which to monitor and control subjects like never before.

While Michel Foucault describes Vietnam as ‘the gates of our world’, this thesis argues that Vietnam stands rather as the gates of our biopolitical world – a period in which Foucault’s original concept of biopolitics is reborn in the computer age. To this end, this thesis examines some of the early impacts and implications of the computerized biopolitical state, and the robotized human subject. It offers an exploration of the ways in which biopolitical ideas can be used alongside science fiction texts to interrogate the cultural tendencies of the USA during the Vietnam War period, stretching from the start of the war in 1955 through to the war’s end in 1975 and the shadow cast in the years that follow. In doing so, it charts how human subjects are complicit in the means of their own oppression, and the ethical implications of the blurred distinction between the human and the machine. Thus, it calls for a new cybernetic form of biopolitical insight – a techno-biopolitics – that integrates the robotic with current understandings of the human, the non-human and the animal, and how they are used as a means of discursive control.

Bibliographic note

This thesis was funded by the AHRC's North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership.