Flood From Above: Disaster Mediation and Drone Humanitarianism

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The eco-drone’s emerging status as a humanitarian technology in the context of catastrophic flooding in North Carolina and Louisiana in 2016 invites a critical examination of the humanitarian drone discourse that frames drone-assisted domestic disaster relief. Current scholarship touts the humanitarian benefits of ecosensing technologies, however this position elides the difference between the speed at which new ecosensing technologies detect flooding disasters and the efficiency with which the state manages such disasters. This difference becomes especially pronounced given the reduction of government assistance in times of environmental disaster. This paper argues that, with this reduction comes the rise of the figure of the heroic drone operator. The birth of the humanitarian eco-drone positions the militarized drone as a life-giving technology working in the service of saving US lives.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalMedia + Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

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