Heather Ashley Hayes

I am a scholar, writer, and educator of over seventeen years. I’m interested in social implications of rhetorical practice and how humans use symbols to make meaning and address problems of common concern. My research centers on violence and discourses of terror. I write about those discourses both domestically within the US and as part of the global terror wars. I am particularly interested in the intersection of domestic sociopolitical landscapes with dynamics of global violence and war, both of which are remade through discourses of terrorism. I additionally engage work about histories and circulations of violence as they relate to race, rhetorical practice, and national security in public 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 both the Programs in Race and Ethnic Studies and Film and Media 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 present work across the US, Middle East, and Europe to audiences in both academic spaces and outside of the university. I also serve as an Associate Editor in Chief for the public analysis space Citizen Critics, where I publish 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 lots of students at various stages of their educational journey and I’m honored to have received a number of distinctions for that work. Most recently in May of 2018, I accepted Whitman College’s George Ball Excellence in Advising Award, a student nominated honor recognizing an educator for outstanding distinction in advising and mentoring students from all areas of the college.

I’m moved by poetic aesthetics, especially in the form of the spoken word, sometimes set to beats. I’m a cinephile. I pen the occasional film or television review and read many. I am a pasta enthusiast. I hold an unyielding bias in favor of unfettered access to education for all in a society, simply on the basis that we’re human.

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

  • University of Amsterdam Amsterdam (map)

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.