Yanlei Zhang | Journal of Business Ethics
The U.S.‐led drone program has severe and wide‐ranging psychosocial and political effects on people in targeted areas. This article draws upon the author’s interviews with people living under drones in Afghanistan to argue that drone surveillance and bombardment causes social isolation and self‐objectification. Interviewees reported that social gatherings, and any activities that involve nighttime travel, are shortened or avoided out of fear that drone surveillance will spot so‐called “nefarious activity” and bombardment will follow. Drawing upon feminist and postcolonial scholarship, the article contends that drone surveillance constitutes a form of psychological colonization. Civilians are frequently made to think of how they look to drone operators and change their behaviors accordingly—therein “self‐objectifying.” Narratives of “precision” warfare allow citizens of Western liberal democracies leading/supporting the drone program to avoid psychologically confronting these effects, while people living under drones face relentless psychological insecurities.