Affect and World Politics: Governing Hearts and Minds at War Museums
March 8, 2021
In a webinar on March 22 at 2 p.m., Audrey Reeves, an assistant professor of political science at Virginia Tech, will discuss her current book project, which considers how war museums in the United States and other democratic nations orchestrate our emotional responses to these nations’ involvement in warfare in the 20th and 21st centuries. Reeves will be joined in conversation by Sylvester Johnson, director of the Center for Humanities.
In the wake of the U.S. interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, philosopher Judith Butler criticized the media for making wars waged by democratic nations seem emotionally palatable by shielding the public from evidence of the destruction waged by those wars. Reeves suggests that, similarly, major war museums provide encounters with war designed to reassure us that those wars are waged responsibly and justly.
Drawing on feminist and postcolonial approaches to knowledge as embodied, Reeves argues that the choreography of visitors’ movements through purposefully designed spaces and architectures plays an important role in this respect. In addition, her book project highlights a need for a greater diversity of perspectives in war museums, notably from women, people of color, and civilians.
Her research is based on participant-observation at world-class museums in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Israel/Palestine, together with an analysis of museum documentation, perspectives of curators, media reviews, and visitors’ online reviews.
In addition to her role as an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science, Reeves is a core faculty member in Virginia Tech’s ASPECT doctoral program. Her research draws on feminist perspectives on world politics, with emphasis on conflict and peace, memory and culture, and migration.
To participate in the webinar, register here.