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Garrett McKinnon,

Garrett McKinnon

Garrett McKinnon is a PhD candidate in the department of history specializing in twentieth-century United States history within a global context. At Duke, he completed fields of study focusing on the history of the United States in the world, U.S. social movements from the revolutionary war to the present, and global and comparative political economy. As an instructor of record at Duke he has taught courses on modern warfare, United States political history, Civil War and Reconstruction in the United States, and Cold War America. His primary advisor is Dirk Bönker.

McKinnon's dissertation, “Automating Violence: A History of United States Drone Warfare, 1900-1970,” examines the cultural history of U.S. machine war in the 20th century. As the first critical study of U.S. drone warfare that traces the technology’s intertwining with politics and culture from the era of World War I through the U.S. war in Vietnam, his thesis explores cultural, corporate, and policy discourses over a long period of time to better understand why drones now loom so large in U.S. military efforts. McKinnon has found that the concerns and anxieties that surrounded soldiers and killing during key moments of U.S. armed conflict led officials to embrace machine substitutions for humans in war for several reasons, perhaps the most significant of which was a fantasy that war machines could conduct violence more effectively and less visibly than human soldiers to depoliticize war. Other reasons included the vulnerabilities of the human body, doubts about servicemen’s masculinity, and enthusiasm for drones’ violent capabilities, as they would inflict what humans might shy from. Drawing upon materials from sixteen different archives, McKinnon's work is situated at the intersection of multiple histories: military, cultural, social, political, technology, science, gender, and sexuality, and has drawn interest from many disciplines and subfields.

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Teaching (Fall 2022):

  • HISTORY 114.01, INTRO HISTORY MODERN WARFARE Synopsis
    Class Bldg 240, TuTh 01:45 PM-03:00 PM
    (also cross-listed as PUBPOL 160.01)
Specialties:

United States and Canada


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