Heather Ashley Hayes

I am a scholar, writer, and educator of over seventeen years. I’m interested in social implications of rhetorical practices, especially racialized violence and discourses of terror. I research those discourses both domestically and as part of the global terror wars within the United States and abroad. I engage work about histories and circulations of violence as it relates to race in public & political discourse, film, and militarized & carceral spaces throughout the world.

I am currently appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Rhetoric and teach in the Program in Race and Ethnic Studies at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, USA. My first book, Violent Subjects and Rhetorical Cartography in the Age of the Terror Wars (Palgrave Macmillan) dropped in 2016, joining a number of other article, review, and chapter length academic pieces I’ve published. I have presented work across the US, Middle East, and Europe to audiences both in academic spaces and outside of the university. I also serve as an Associate Editor in Chief for the public analysis space Citizen Critics (www.citizencritics.org), where I publish public work from time to time.

I have been privileged in my career to teach at institutions ranging from a small liberal arts college in the Pacific Northwest of the US to a large public high school in Texas and many spaces in between. I have worked with many students at varied stages of their educational journeys and I’m honored to have received a number of distinctions for that work. Most recently in May 2018, I accepted the George Ball Excellence in Advising Award, a student nominated campuswide honor recognizing a faculty member for outstanding distinction in advising and mentoring students across Whitman College.

I love poetic aesthetics, especially in the form of the spoken word, sometimes set to beats. I’m a cinephile who pens the occasional film/television review and reads many. I’m an advocate for all things I hope can make participatory democracy more just for everyone and hold an unyielding bias in favor of better access to public education for all, on the basis of simply being human. I am a spaghetti enthusiast.

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

  • Salt Palace Convention Center Room 259 Salt Lake City, UT USA (map)

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?