Heather Ashley Hayes

Heather Ashley Hayes is a scholar, author, and global citizen critic researching, writing, organizing, and teaching. Working from a PhD in communication studies and rhetoric with additional background in anthropological fieldwork methods, her interest focuses on the social implications of racialized violence and discourses of terrorism, both domestically and sometimes as part of the global, decades long US-led war on terror both within the United States and abroad. She engages work about circulations of violence and race in public discourse, film, and militarized & carceral spaces throughout the world.

Dr. Hayes is currently appointed as an Assistant Professor of the Department of Rhetoric and teaches in the Program in Race and Ethnic Studies at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, USA. She is the author of Violent Subjects and Rhetorical Cartography in the Age of the Terror Wars (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). Committed to public and global deliberation, she has presented her work across the US, Middle East, and Europe to diverse audiences, has taught at both a small liberal arts college and a large public high school and many institutions in between, and serves as Terrorism and Middle East desk editor for Citizen Critics (www.citizencritics.org), where she also is a contributor.

She also loves poetic aesthetics, she’s a cinephile who publishes the occasional film/television review, and she’s a vocal fighter for all things that make participatory democracy more fair and just.

the thriving life of racialized weaponry: violence and sonic capacities from the drone to the gun
Nov
10
3:30 PM15:30

the thriving life of racialized weaponry: violence and sonic capacities from the drone to the gun

Despite prolific use of the technology known as drones throughout the Middle East and North Africa beginning in 2008, little scholarship has explored the life of the drone itself and the way the weapon, as an actor, functions. In addition, few connections have been made to the way the life of the drone may inform, guide, and expand the life of other deadly weapons. This paper, presented by Professor Heather Ashley Hayes as part of the Peace and Conflict Communication division of the 2018 National Communication Association convention, will analyze one component of armed drones: their vocal capacity (that buzzing sound) alongside their capacity to generate fear in their targets. The drone itself is a living being in this reading, with the ability to speak and the ability to act, often with terminal consequences for those whom it acts upon (and sometimes those who may or may not direct it to act). Understanding the drone as having its own self-fulfilling set of logics, with the ability to speak via its generation of sound, may allow us to think about the expansion of personless weapons within both war fighting projects and domestic policing campaigns. This understanding gives us unique insight into domestic weapons proliferation and the trajectory of weapons use and exchange. We should interrogate circulation between the social life of the drone and the gun and the abilities they have to speak (through piercing aural punctuations when in use). The seeming rush with which both the U.S. military and domestic police forces are expanding these technologies exhibits ways that all weapons systems threaten to take on lives of their own. In short: how do a weapon's capacities to impact sonic landscapes facilitate its proliferation and power as a preferred technology of policing and war? And ultimately, how does this exploration point us toward circulatory discourses of self-fulfilling logics in our social life of weaponry, materializing these "weapons as actors" as the most efficient site of policing and governance of populations?

View Event →

Terror Arguments Boomerang from Waziristan to Standing Rock: Argumentative Frameworks and the US Surveillance State
Jul
4
2:30 PM14:30

Terror Arguments Boomerang from Waziristan to Standing Rock: Argumentative Frameworks and the US Surveillance State

In his first forty-five days in office as President of the United States, Donald Trump authorized 36 targeted drone attack operations, one for every 1.25 days of his presidency. Compared to President Barack Obama’s 542 targeted drone attacks in 2,920 days of his presidency, Trump’s utilization of targeted drone attacks within the US led terror wars represents about a 432% increase in active use of the technology known as armed, unmanned aerial vehicles. In this paper, I examine violence in the age of the terror wars with an eye toward the technologies of argument that facilitate that violence across the globe. Specifically, as life-ending US drone attacks are increasingly deployed against majority-Muslim populations around the world, the same argumentative frameworks that authorize those attacks are beginning to authorize comparable surveillance techniques against US citizens on US soil. Recently publicized discourse from global security firm Tiger Swan concerning actions at the anti-DAPL protests in North Dakota demonstrates what I argue is the “boomerang effect” of terrorism arguments utilized by the US to facilitate the terror wars. This paper traces the cartography of arguments around the US drone program, emphasizing key moments in the argumentative map of the terror wars. I argue that the ways that the argumentative frameworks deployed in the US to authorize deadly drone strikes against majority Muslim people abroad have now boomeranged back and are being deployed against indigenous protesters in the US, tracking, attacking, and incarcerating them. I conclude by offering some thoughts about the intersection of argument frameworks, governmental control, and violence as the Trump administration prepares to amplify both military and non-military technologies of surveillance to continue waging the terror wars against majority Muslim communities across the world. I draw connections between the arguments that sanction those terror wars abroad alongside new surveillance strategies against protesters on US soil.

View Event →
Embracing Networked Criminality: Dispatches from the Argumentative Frameworks of Hacktivism
Jul
29
1:30 PM13:30

Embracing Networked Criminality: Dispatches from the Argumentative Frameworks of Hacktivism

  • AFA/NCA ALTA Biennial Argumentation Conference (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

This presentation examines the argumentative terrain of the "hacktivist" element within the loosely cohered, global Internet based group Anonymous. Specifically looking to the actions in #OpEgypt and #OpTunisia, the work explores the networked criminality and resistance embraced by factions of Anonymous who participated in these operations. Hayes argues that this faction of Anonymous, sometimes known by competing members within organization's ranks as "moralfags," represents a new way to understand expansions of the public sphere in which dissent against state sanctioned violence can thrive.

View Event →
The Drone Wars Rage On: Examining the Terror Wars from Waziristan to Washington
Apr
27
7:00 PM19:00

The Drone Wars Rage On: Examining the Terror Wars from Waziristan to Washington

  • Maxey Auditorium at Whitman College (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

In his first forty-five days in office, Donald Trump authorized 36 targeted drone attack operations - one every 1.25 days of his presidency. Compared to President Barack Obama's 542 targeted drone attacks in 2,920 days of his presidency, Trump's utilization of targeted drone attacks within the U.S. led terror wars represents about a 432% increase in active use of the military technology known as the armed, unmanned aerial vehicle. In her book, Violent Subjects and Rhetorical Cartography in the Age of the Terror Wars (Palgrave Macmillan Press UK, 2016), Dr. Heather Ashley Hayes examines violence in the age of the terror wars with an eye toward the technologies of governance that facilitate that violence. In performing a rhetorical cartography that explores the rise of the US armed drone program, Hayes argues that the problems of the global terror wars are best addressed within a rhetorical understanding of the ways that governments, and individual subjects, turn to violence as a response to, or product of, the post September 11 terror society. In this talk, drawn in part from her book, she will trace the rhetorical cartography of the armed drone program through the later stages of the Obama presidency, emphasizing key moments in the discursive map of the terror wars. She will conclude by offering some thoughts about the intersection of rhetoric and violence as the Trump administration prepares to amplify both military and non-military technologies of governance in an effort to continue fighting the terror wars across the world. Hayes will connect this arc of governing strategies to ones that dominate discourse around women's reproductive rights in the U.S. today.

Sponsored by Whitman College's Planned Parenthood Generation Action organization. For more information, contact Emma Dulaney at dulaneem@whitman.edu. A raffle will be hald for a book giveaway, so don't miss it!

View Event →
The Drone Wars Rage On: Examining the Terror Wars from Waziristan to Washington
Apr
13
6:00 PM18:00

The Drone Wars Rage On: Examining the Terror Wars from Waziristan to Washington

In his first forty-five days in office, Donald Trump authorized 36 targeted drone attack operations - one every 1.25 days of his presidency. Compared to President Barack Obama's 542 targeted drone attacks in 2,920 days of his presidency, Trump's utilization of targeted drone attacks within the U.S. led terror wars represents about a 432% increase in active use of the military technology known as the armed, unmanned aerial vehicle. In her book, Violent Subjects and Rhetorical Cartography in the Age of the Terror Wars (Palgrave Macmillan Press UK, 2016), Dr. Heather Ashley Hayes examines violence in the age of the terror wars with an eye toward the technologies of governance that facilitate that violence. In performing a rhetorical cartography that explores the rise of the US armed drone program, Hayes argues that the problems of the global terror wars are best addressed within a rhetorical understanding of the ways that governments, and individual subjects, turn to violence as a response to, or product of, the post September 11 terror society. In this talk, drawn in part from her book, she will trace the rhetorical cartography of the armed drone program through the later stages of the Obama presidency, emphasizing key moments in the discursive map of the terror wars. She will conclude by offering some thoughts about the intersection of rhetoric and violence as the Trump administration prepares to amplify both military and non-military technologies of governance in an effort to continue fighting the terror wars across the world.

Sponsored by Lewis & Clark College's Department of Rhetoric and Media.

View Event →
The Thriving Life of the Drone: Violence and the Circulation of Terror in Personless Weaponry
Mar
4
8:00 AM08:00

The Thriving Life of the Drone: Violence and the Circulation of Terror in Personless Weaponry

A talk and essay delivered by Heather Ashley Hayes at the Social Life of Guns Symposium at Amherst College on March 3-4, 2017. Drawn from new interpretations of her work in her book Violent Subjects and Rhetorical Cartography in the Age of the Terror Wars (2016, for more information see "Violent Subjects" tab at left).

Since 2010, what the world has come to know as the terror wars have been dominated by new developments in weaponry. War fighting’s history is rife with changes to help distance a weapon from the “authorized” user of that weapon, from bayonets to tanks and more. The arrival of unmanned aerial vehicles in the form of armed Predator and Reaper drones embarking on targeted killing missions throughout the Arab world certainly amplifies this effort to new levels. The deployment of a weapon with terminal consequences alongside its ability to surveil, track, and ultimately, target human beings outside of declared war zones without the immediate presence of an operator poses a number of questions. Much of the focus on armed drone use however has come in the form of assessments about the efficacy of the weapon, accuracy of its targeting mechanisms, or the legality of its very use. The Obama administration’s near complete silence on the armed drone program was broken in July of 2016 when death tolls from the weapon’s use by the U.S. in non-declared war zones were finally released alongside an executive order attempting to curb civilian deaths brought about by the weapon’s use. However, little if any scholarship has explored the life of the drone itself, the way the weapon as actor functions. In addition, few connections have been made to the way the life of the drone may inform, guide, and expand the life of guns. This essay will confront these questions, examining the personless weapons known as armed drones, used by the U.S. against almost entirely Arab, Muslim populations as part of their efforts in the terror wars and thinking about their being as it relates to the way that guns are deployed, used, and come to have a life of their own as well.

Specifically, this essay will analyze three components of the armed drones currently used as part of the U.S. terror wars: their aural capacity (that buzzing sound), their scopic capacity (their roaming eye), and their killing capacity (their ability to act based on directives). The drone itself is a living being in this sense, with the ability to watch, the ability to speak, and the ability to act, often with terminal consequences for those whom it acts upon (and sometimes those who direct it to act). Understanding the drone as its own self-fulfilling set of logics will allow us access to think about the expansion of personless weapons programs both within war fighting projects and within domestic policing spheres. This gives us unique insight into gun proliferation and the trajectory of gun use and exchange. The seeming rush with which both the U.S. military and domestic police forces are developing these technologies exhibits ways that weapons threaten to take on lives of their own. With the Dallas Police Department deploying a “bomb robot” to kill a suspect in the wake of the police shootings there in July of 2016, the imperative to understand this trajectory is more pressing than ever.

In short, this essay will ask: what is the body of the drone able to do and how does it access its power? How do its aural and scopic capacities facilitate its growth as a preferred information technology of policing and war? How does this personless weapon arc inform our understandings about the social life of guns? And ultimately, what ethical explorations have been shielded from debate as a result of any weapon gaining supposedly self-fulfilling logics as efficient ways to police and govern populations?

View Event →
The Dawn of Humanitarian Weapons: Discourses of a Kinder, Friendlier Killing Machine
Nov
25
1:00 PM13:00

The Dawn of Humanitarian Weapons: Discourses of a Kinder, Friendlier Killing Machine

Talk delivered by Heather Ashley Hayes as part of the States of Exception II: The Politics of Life, Bodies of War: Drones and Lone Wolves Symposium sponsored by the Contemporary Research on International Political Theory working group, part of the British International Studies Association, at Lancaster University from November 24-26, 2016. Talk drawn in part from her book Violent Subjects and Rhetorical Cartography in the Age of the Terror Wars (2016, for more information see "Violent Subjects" tab at left).

The enthusiastic proponents of armed drones claim the program is “a major step forward…in humanitarian technology” (Anderson, 2010). U.S. president Barack Obama has extended this idea in his direct addresses about drone use, claiming, “Simply put, these strikes save lives…we are choosing the course of action that is least likely to result in the loss of innocent life” (Obama, 2013). If we are to ponder drone attacks as humanitarian, then we must ask: How can one claim that war machines with no human being immediately attached to its killing capacity are a “humane” method of destroying life? How can we describe as “humanitarian” a program designed to annihilate human life? (Chamayou, 2015) Based on the “Living Under Drones” report co-published by Stanford Law School and NYU School of Law (2012), we also know that the everyday lives of humans living under the watchful eyes and roaming missile beams of the drones live in constant fear: “Everyone is scared all the time. When we’re sitting together to have a meeting, we’re scared there might be a strike. When you can hear the drone circling in the sky, you think it might strike you. We’re always scared. We always have this fear in our head” (Ishaq 2012). This article and presentation will confront the “fluidity of everyday practices, affects, and uncertainties” (Chaput, 2010) that come with living under drones and read this everyday phenomenon against the institutionalized discourses that frame the drone war as the dawn of a humanitarian fighting capacity. Ultimately, Hayes argues that the framing process by which drone attacks are to be understood as humanitarian allows the governing apparatus to functionally negate the experience of those most affected by the vast expanse of the program, effectively marking Muslims around the globe as permanently killable targets via the terror wars.

View Event →
Rethinking Spectacle and the Neoliberal Imaginary: A Discussion of Ned O'Gorman's New Work
Nov
10
2:00 PM14:00

Rethinking Spectacle and the Neoliberal Imaginary: A Discussion of Ned O'Gorman's New Work

  • National Communication Association Conference (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

Join us for this National Communication Association conference panel, chaired by Heather Ashley Hayes and sponsored by the American Society for the History of Rhetoric, about a fascinating new work in the field of communication and rhetorical studies.

Bloody, fiery spectacles - the Challenger disaster, 9/11, JFK's assassination - have given us moments of catastrophe that make it easy to answer the "where were you when" question and shape our ways of seeing what came before and after. Why are these spectacles so packed with meaning?

In his new book The Iconoclastic Imagination: Image, Catastrophe, and Economy in America from the Kennedy Assassination to September 11, Ned O'Gorman approaches each of these moments as an image of icon destruction that give us distinct ways to imagine social existence in American life. He argues that the Cold War gave rise to crises in political, aesthetic, and political aesthetic representations. Locating all of these crises within a "neoliberal imaginary," O'Gorman explains that since the Kennedy assassination, the most powerful way to see "America" has been in the destruction of representative American symbols or icons. This, in turn, has profound implications for a neoliberal economy, social philosophy, and public policy.

Richly interwoven with philosophical, theological, and rhetorical traditions, the book offers a new foundation for a complex and innovative approach to studying Cold War America, political theory, and visual culture. Already hailed as "a powerful argument about American public culture, and one that contributes directly to current reconsiderations of visual representation, political aesthetics, media coverage of disasters, and cultural change," this work promises to be vital in understanding visual culture, spectacle, and the concept of the event. This panel will bring together scholars in the field of communication and rhetorical theory and criticism to discuss the merits of O'Gorman's work and then will offer Professor O'Gorman the opportunity to respond on behalf of the work and its central themes. Designed to highlight a new book in the field of rhetoric and communication studies, this panel will also provide NCA members an opportunity to explore new frontiers in the field as it pushes its limits.

View Event →
Whitman College DebateWatch Event: Third Presidential Debate
Oct
19
6:00 PM18:00

Whitman College DebateWatch Event: Third Presidential Debate

Join the Department of Rhetoric Studies, the Center for Writing and Speaking, and the Department of Politics sponsored event, Whitman College DebateWatch: The Third and Final Presidential Debate. We will live tweet under the hashtag #TRDW (team rhetoric debate watch). For more information, see the Election 2016 tab.

View Event →
Whitman College DebateWatch Event: Second Presidential Debate
Oct
9
6:00 PM18:00

Whitman College DebateWatch Event: Second Presidential Debate

Join the Department of Rhetoric Studies, the Center for Writing and Speaking, and the Department of Politics sponsored event, Whitman College DebateWatch: The Second Presidential Debate. We will live tweet under the hashtag #TRDW (team rhetoric debate watch). For more information, see the Election 2016 tab. Stick around after the debate to participate in a town hall discussion about the election, led by Professor of Politics Susanne Beechey.

View Event →
Whitman College DebateWatch Event: First Presidential Debate
Sep
26
6:00 PM18:00

Whitman College DebateWatch Event: First Presidential Debate

Join the Department of Rhetoric Studies, the Center for Writing and Speaking, and the Department of Politics sponsored event, Whitman College DebateWatch: The First Presidential Debate. We will live tweet under the hashtag #TRDW (team rhetoric debate watch). For more information, see the Election 2016 tab.

View Event →
Professor Zornitsa Keremidchieva Visits Whitman College
Sep
19
4:00 PM16:00

Professor Zornitsa Keremidchieva Visits Whitman College

Professor Zornitsa Keremidchieva is a Senior Lecturer and Director of Writing at Macalester College. Keremidchieva’s research interests focus on the intersection of feminist theory and political discourse. Her dissertation titled “The Gendering of Legislative Rationality: Women, Immigrants, and the Nationalization of Citizenship, 1918-1922,” examined the intersection of discourses about women and immigrants in Congressional rhetorics in the early 20th century. It was awarded the National Communication Association’s Gerald R. Miller Award for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation in 2008. Her work has appeared in journals such as The Quarterly Journal of Speech, Argumentation & Advocacy, Women & Language, Journal of Argumentation in Context, Feminist Media Studies, in edited collections such as Globalizing Intercultural Communication, The Sage Handbook of Gender and Communication and The Sage Handbook of Rhetorical Studies, and in the proceedings of organizations such as International Society for the Study of Argumentation.  

At Whitman, she will deliver a talk titled, "The Nationalization of (Alien) Women: A Domestic Story with Some Global Implications." Citizenship is a systems concept that arises from both the domestic and international political order. Historically, women have been in a particularly tenuous position within the interplay of national and international political relations. In her talk, Keremidchieva will trace the rhetorical emergence of women’s citizenship as an object of legislative interest in the U.S. from the first Congress, which barely recognized women’s existence, to the post-World War I period when Congress established women’s independent citizenship and naturalization rights as a way to assert the country’s leadership in the international arena. The talk will illustrate how gendered rhetoric creates frameworks through which the international and domestic order have been aligned, how these alignments have advantaged some women at the expense of others, and why since WWI citizenship has increasingly become a tool of exclusion rather than inclusion in the international arena of politics. Thus the talk points to the (dangerous) futility of inclusion politics, and instead argues for radical, post-national feminist politics of belonging.

Professor Keremidchieva's visit is sponsored by the Department of Rhetoric and the Whitman College Visiting Educator fund.

View Event →
Violent Subjects: The Terror Wars Drone On....Or Don't They?
Mar
9
12:00 PM12:00

Violent Subjects: The Terror Wars Drone On....Or Don't They?

  • University of Minnesota, East Bank (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

Join Professor Heather Ashley Hayes for a talk inspired by her first book, Violent Subjects and Rhetorical Cartography in the Age of the Terror Wars. As the United States enters the fifteenth year of its self-declared "War on Terror," discourses around terrorism have expanded and retracted to encompass an array of policy changes from the invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan to Donald Trump's recent suggestion that the U.S. halt all Muslim immigration into the U.S. In this talk, Hayes will discuss the racialized technology of governance known as the armed drone program. In directing life ending violence against Muslim communities throughout the world, the program represents a fruitful space to engage rhetorical understandings of the ways that governing bodies, as well as individual subjects and constituted communities, turn to violence as a response to the post 9/11 terror society. When political examinations of the drone program are facilitated through understandings of discourse, Hayes will argue that clearer maps emerge of how violence functions and we can better ask an important question: how is violence rhetorical? The talk is sponsored by the University of Minnesota Department of Communication Studies as part of their Wednesday Noon Research series. Free and open to the public.

View Event →
Banff Film Festival at Whitman College
Jan
20
7:00 PM19:00

Banff Film Festival at Whitman College

Festival will be held in Cordiner Hall. Tickets will be available for purchase starting January 12th at the Whitman Bookstore and the Outdoor Program Rental Shop in the Reid Campus Center building at the corner of Park St. and Boyer Ave.

Pricing: 
Whitman Students, Faculty and Staff FREE with valid ID card

Community Members: Adults-$15  

Non-Whitman Students with ID-$10  

Kids 17 and under/Whitman alumni-$5

View Event →
Immigration Teach In
Apr
18
3:00 PM15:00

Immigration Teach In

A week of action and discussion on the issue of immigration, to occur at Whitman College, culminating in a two hour "teach in" on Friday, April 18.

Monday April 14th: Keynote lecture from Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of the National Day Labor Organizing Network, Location TBA 

Tuesday April 15"Harvest of Empire" film screening: 7:30pm in Kimball Theater, Whitman College

Wednesday April 16Regional Immigration Activist Panel: Maxey 204, Whitman College at 7:30pm

Friday April 18thTeach In, Olin 130, Whitman College, 3pm, Schedule below.

3:00 Intros, outline of the afternoon.

3:05-3:35 Julie Charlip, with a brief history of U.S.-Latin American relations, specifically as it pertains to factors which have precipitated northern migration.

3:35-4:05 Jennifer Devine, discussing narco-trafficking and the war on drugs, with a focus on how these factors may have exacerbated tensions driving migration.

4:05-4:35 Heather Ashley Hayes, discussing drone warfare, biometrics, and weapons of the state on the U.S.-Mexico border.

4:35-5:00 Alum Ariel Ruiz '12 will lead an audience discussion of the intersection of the issues discussed in the afternoon.

View Event →
Power and Privilege Symposium
Feb
20
8:00 AM08:00

Power and Privilege Symposium

A student-led, faculty endorsed, day of reflection about issues of power and privilege across Whitman College, the academy, and the surrounding public communities. Heather Ashley Hayes will deliver a talk entitled, "Blood on the Leaves: Violence, the Black Body, and the Possibility of Hip-Hop" in Maxey Auditorium, once at 11:00am and again at 2:45pm. 

View Event →
The Mark of Criminality: A Counter-Cultural History of the War on Crime
Feb
11
4:30 PM16:30

The Mark of Criminality: A Counter-Cultural History of the War on Crime

Whitman College welcomes the second guest educator in the Rhetoric Studies Visiting Educator Series, Dr. Bryan J. McCann of Louisiana State University. Public talk and discussion: 4:30-5:30pm. Meet and greet reception in Hunter Conservatory foyer: 5:30-6:00pm.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, America waged a “war on crime.” While elected officials of both major parties fought to prove their “tough-on-crime” credentials, news media and other cultural outlets inundated citizens with discourses that encouraged them to fear criminalized threats and support extremely punitive state measures to purportedly reduce crime. The resulting changes in federal and state policies led to an incarceration explosion that has made the United States the leading jailer of its adult population. Few scholars have accounted for the ways those most directly impacted by crime control resisted such spectacular regimes of surveillance, fear, and containment. This omission comes in spite of the fact that virtually every generation has included vernacular practices that troubled prevailing rhetorics of criminality. This public presentation, drawing from a larger book project, turns to the emergence of gangsta rap in the late 1980s and early 1990s to illuminate resistant cultural production during the war on crime. McCann argues that a reading of gangsta rap’s lyrics, music, and attendant cultural discourses within the socio-historical matrix of the war on crime reveals a wholly more complex era in American politics than previous investigations provide. Specifically, the intervention of gangsta rap into the politics of law and order during this period reconstituted the very parameters thereof, highlighting the deeply contingent character of the mark of criminality in the production of racialized and criminalized subjects. Second, because gangsta rap was itself deeply fraught with the conditioning influences of musical commerce, patriarchy, and homophobia, this project advances a more nuanced consideration of what it means to partake in political resistance in contemporary public culture. Lastly, it is McCann’s belief that more firmly understanding the complexities associated with rhetoric, culture, and crime can inform the kinds of community activism needed to end our nation’s unrivaled dependence on mass incarceration.

View Event →