Alex Edney-Browne Lecture

4 June 2019


image of a military drone

The Human Cost of Drone Warfare

A public lecture by Alex Edney-Browne, International Relations, University of Melbourne.

Imagine living under the eerie "bnng" of an armed drone circling overhead. Imagine if that was the sound you heard immediately before the explosion that killed your brother or blasted off your leg. Imagine knowing that people 7000 miles away could see into your homes and watch your family from above. Fear, disappointment, anger and hopelessness are just some of the emotions that Afghan civilians living under drones experience. With military drones fast-proliferating across the world, governments and militaries continue to claim that drones cause minimal harm to civilians and are an effective weapon against terrorism. There are, however, significant effects on civilians' physical and psychological health, ability to socialise and move freely and their cultural customs. Drone warfare’s effectiveness as a counter-terrorism strategy is dubious at best. In this talk, Alex Edney-Browne discusses her findings on the wide-ranging effects of drone warfare from qualitative research in Afghanistan, refugee squats in Greece, and the United States.   

Alex Edney-Browne is a PhD Candidate in International Relations at the University of Melbourne. Her thesis examines the emotional and psycho-social effects of drone warfare on people on both sides of drone technology — civilians living under drones in rural provinces of Afghanistan, and US Air Force veterans. Her research involved fieldwork in Afghanistan, refugee squats in Greece, and the United States to interview people most affected by drones. Before starting her thesis, Alex worked as a research assistant at the University of Auckland on two projects: “Counterinsurgency and civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan” and the documentary He Toki Huna: New Zealand in Afghanistan. Alex has published in The LA Times, ABC, The Conversation and New Matilda, among others, and her research has also featured in The Saturday Paper and the ABC's podcast "Science Friction". She has spoken at many public events, including the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) and Splendour in the Grass music festival.