Katherine Chandler

Katherine Chandler
Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor

Katherine Chandler is a critical theorist and Assistant Professor of Culture and Politics in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.  Her teaching and research interests draw on science and technology studies, media theory, geography, political theory and art practice.  

Her current research, "Drone Flight and Failure: the United States' Secret Trials, Experiments and Operations in Unmanning, 1936-1991," studies the pre-history of contemporary pilotless technologies to interrogate conditions that gave rise to their current use by the United States Military in the War on Terror.  She asks how the socio-technical relations formed by drone aircraft map onto and transform the questions of who or what is human? who or what is machine? who or what is an enemy?  The history of these socio-technical networks is one just as much of failure as it is of innovation.  She argues for an account of unmanned systems that links visibility and invisibility, as well as security and failure. These relations are tied to how geopolitics has shifted in the 20th century.

The challenges of working with classified and formerly classified materials have led to several concurrent projects in the visual arts, which explore how secrecy operates within the context of unmanning and with what consequences.  Her artwork creates an “unarchive of the unmanned,” pointing to the limits of what a technology can see and the resulting politics.  This project has resulted in artistic residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Provisions: Art for Social Change at George Mason University, as well as number of exhibitions and critical texts about drones in contemporary art.

As a core member of the CULP faculty, she teaches "Political Transfigurations: Technologies, Bodies and Violence, 1945 – present," "Media Infrastructures," and "Introduction to Culture and Politics."

Areas of Expertise: Science and Technology Studies, Media Theory, Critical Security Studies, Political and Critical Theory, Art Practice.


“5,000 Feet is the Best: Re-Viewing the Politics of Unmanned Aircraft Systems.” Knowledge Politics and Intercultural Dynamics 5.1 (2012): 63-74. Print.

“System Failures.” The New Inquiry. 16 Aug. 2012. Web.

“Political Environments.” qui parle. 19.2 (2011): 300-309. Print.

“Where Are the Shoes?” Vincent Everywhere: Van Gogh’s Inter(National) Identities. Eds. Rachel Esner & Margriet Schavemaker. Amsterdam, Netherlands, University of Amsterdam Press, 2010. 63-75. Print.