YCISS talk looks at culture, technology and ethics of virtuous war

James Der Derian, a research professor at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies and author of Virtuous War: Mapping the Military-Industrial-Media-Entertainment Network, will discuss virtuous war as part of the Contemporary Dilemmas in Canadian Security Lecture Series hosted by the York Centre for International & Security Studies (YCISS) and the Security & Defence Forum.

Der Derian will present “The Culture, Technology, and Ethics of Virtuous War” Thursday, Jan. 21, from 7 to 9pm, in the Theatre Room of the Toronto Marriott Dontown Eaton Centre, 525 Bay St., Toronto. Admission is free.

Left: James Der Derian

Questions of war and peace are now framed by technological, cultural and ethical imperatives. From the Gulf War to the Iraq War, the United States perfected new technologies, under the auspices of a "revolution in military affairs", to fight virtuous wars, says Der Derian, director of the Watson Institute’s Global Security Program and the Information Technology, War & Peace Project, as well as the Global Media Project.

Technology in the service of virtue gave rise to a new configuration of virtual power, the military-industrial-media-entertainment network. After winning the short battle of "shock and awe" in Iraq, but losing the long war to bring democracy and peace to the Middle East, the US military began a controversial program to "operationalize" culture as an instrument of counter-insurgency and counterterrorism; anthropologists, political scientists and anthropologists are enlisted in the effort. As war goes virtual and cultural in the name of justice, unintended and tragic consequences result.  

Der Derian’s recent publications include, Virtuous War (2nd ed., Routledge, 2009), Critical Practices of International Theory: Selected Essays (Routledge, 2009) and AntiDiplomacy: Spies, Terror, Speed, & War (Blackwell Publishing, 1992). He is also the producer of three documentary films, VirtualY2K (2000), After 9/11 (2003) and Human Terrain (2009).

To pre-register for the lecture, click here.

For more information, visit the YCISS Web site.