Helen M. Kinsella

Position title: Resident Fellow (2015-2016)

Political Science, UW-Madison

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On Being Able to Sleep: Bio-politics in Counterinsurgent Wars

My project analyzes the United States-led counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2001. By focusing on this node of war, part of the larger U.S. led overseas contingency operations, I demonstrate how war is indissociable from, and indeed becomes, every day life for all involved. I put forth that nowhere more than in the capacity to sleep—the dreams and nightmares it enables, its relation to the body and to the soul, its interruptions by trauma and sometimes its failure to be interrupted by conscience, its categorization as a military logistic, and its manipulation as such—is the complexity of war’s effects illuminated.  And, yet, it has been overlooked as such.

Helen M. Kinsella is an Associate Professor in the Political Science Department at UW-Madison.  Her research and teaching interests include contemporary political theory, feminist theories, international law, especially international humanitarian and human rights, armed conflict, and gender and armed conflict. She is a graduate of University of Minnesota-Minneapolis and, prior to her appointment at Wisconsin, held pre and post doctoral fellowships at, respectively, Harvard University and Stanford University.  Her first book, The Image Before the Weapon: A Critical History of the Distinction Between Combatant and Civilian (Cornell UP, April 2011), received the 2012 Sussex International Theory Prize (The Centre for Advanced International Theory, University of Sussex) and Honorable Mention for the 2012 Lepgold Book Prize (The Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Mortara Center for International Studies, Georgetown University).