Oliwia Wasik

Thesis title:

Tracing the nexus between trauma and technology in the modern understanding of political violence


The origins and effects of trauma are not only intertwined with technological developments in the 19th century, but trauma is disseminated through technologies, often in a traumatizing fashion itself. From drone strikes, “me too” hashtags, or biometric filters to grant a refugee status, trauma and technology are co-constituting how modern political violence is contemporarily defined. Trauma, often presented as one of the defining features of our times, refers to a psychic state after a disturbing event, inassimilable through memory, which collapses the victim’s violent experience of the past into an ever lasting present. In the International Relations literature, studies on trauma have concentrated on the ways in which mass-scale violence, such as terrorism or war rape, and their consequences, has psychologically affected whole communities, without necessarily concentrating on the politics of trauma, but rather on its psychological dimensions. Technology is then usually seen as only enhancing or increasing psychological trauma rather than a co-constitutive element in forms of modern political violence. Oliwia’s project thus seeks to conceptualize and empirically evidence how this co-constitution operates to define political violence beyond its psychological modalities. Genealogically engaging with the early connections between technology and violence found in the work of Jünger, Heidegger, and Schmitt, the project seeks to evidence how integrating technology is politically co-constitutive, with trauma, of forms of modern political violence – whether sexual violence, visual representation of historically traumatic events, or social media immediacy and ubiquity in representing daily violence – that have come to define our modern Zeitgeist.

First supervisor:

Jean Francois_Drolet


11 – Global Order, Violence & Security Practice