Human Screens: Bodies, Media and the Meaning of Violence
Keywords:human screens, human shields, bodies, media, violence
From phalanx-fighting, through the use of multiple distance weapons, to the development of airpower and drone warfare in the last century, the history of armed conflicts is one of increasing distance from which people are killed, but also one of increasing weaponization of the human body. Starting from World War I, innocent civilians who were used as human shields to protect military targets in violation of the laws of war were often defined as ‘human screens’. The notion of human screen, I argue in this article, is not merely a synonym for human shield. In fact, the human screen is not only a human weapon. As I show in this archaeological exploration, the process of transformation of the human body into a screen translates also into the development of a new media technology that both allows to modulate the use of lethal force and shape the perception and political meaning of violence in the battlefield.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Nicola Perugini
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