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Durham University

Research & business

Research lectures, seminars and events

The events listed in this area are research seminars, workshops and lectures hosted by Durham University departments and research institutes. If you are not a member of the University, but  wish to enquire about attending one of the events please contact the organiser or host department.


April 2019
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Events for 24 April 2019

Oliver Belcher: Sensing, Territory, Population: Computation, Embodied Sensing, and Hamlet Control in the Vietnam War

6:00pm, Holgate Room, Grey College

This presentation analyses a mid-twentieth century computerized pacification reporting system, the Hamlet Evaluation System (HES), used by the US military to measure hamlet-level security and development trends in the Vietnam War. The significance of the HES was its capacity to translate US Military Advisor observations of Vietnamese hamlet life into a machine-readable computer format used by US military systems analysts to disclose 'patterns of life.' I show how US Military Advisors operated as 'embodied sensors' within the HES, producing a distinctive location-based event ontology - a 'view of below' - accompanied by rudimentary digital maps in-formation from incoming hamlet-level observation streams. I argue that acts of translating the rich texture of hamlet and village life into an objectified information format constituted a unique form of 'epistemic violence,' rooted not so much in the narrative subjection of the 'Other,' but in the pure abstraction of life into a digitally stored data trace.

Contact for more information about this event.