Event date : March 1, 2019: University of Kent at Canterbury


This one-day workshop examines the theme of remote warfare. Following the two costly counterinsurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, large-scale military deployments have again become unpalatable for Western policy-makers and their electorates. In response, many Western and non-Western states have limited themselves to supporting the frontline fighting of local and regional actors against terrorist groups like Boko Haram, al-Shabaab and Islamic State, through the provision of intelligence, training, equipment and often airpower. Despite the increasing prevalence of this distinct form of military engagement across Africa, Asia and the Middle East (including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, and the Philippines), considerable gaps still exist in the academic understanding of remote warfare.

This workshop opens-up the contemporary practices of remote warfare to a more holistic examination, aiming to draw out some of its currently overlooked and/or undertheorized dimensions. Its primary purpose is to help advance a richer, more holistic understanding of this approach which can be used to better inform policymaking and academic debates.

With this in mind, we invite proposals for papers (which should be no longer than 300 words) around the three major themes listed below. Paper proposals are also welcomed on the individual tools of remote warfare (including, but not limited to, drones, Special Forces, Private Military Security Contractors, train-and-equip programs and cyber security). 

  1. What is remote warfare? How should the contemporary practices of remote warfare be conceptualised? Are their distinct ‘ways’ of remote warfare (e.g. an American, British or French way of remote warfare)? What is the non-Western experience of remote warfare? What contributions can International Relations theorists make toward the study of remote warfare?

  2. What are the historical roots of remote warfare? Do the contemporary practices of remote warfare have antecedence in the military campaigns fought by the European colonial powers during the age of imperialism? What is the relationship between the contemporary practices of remote warfare on the one hand and American and Soviet practices of proxy warfare during the Cold War on the other?

  3. What is the future of remote warfare? Is remote warfare here to last? Should we expect to see a return to large-scale ‘boots on the ground’ military intervention? What implications will the ongoing developments in cyber, machine learning and artificial intelligence have for remote warfare in the future? 

A sample of the best papers from the workshop will be invited to participate to an E-IR edited collection on the subject of remote warfare.

Proposals and questions can be sent to the workshop organisers Abigail Watson (The Oxford Research Group’s Remote Warfare Programme), Dr Rubrick Biegon (University of Kent) and Tom Watts (Royal Holloway, University of London) at [email protected]. The proposal deadline is January 15 2019.