Accepted Paper:

Re-viewing Aliens: Watching The X-Files during the Global War on Terror  


Katherine Chandler (Georgetown University)

Paper short abstract:

This experimental papers considers race, gender and "alien" others in the X-Files to reflect on national security in the United States during the Global War on Terror and experiences researching this issues, given the X-Files provocation "The Truth is Out There."

Paper long abstract:

The X-Files was the only television show I ever watched religiously. Early in the series, Scully and Mulder go to Idaho to investigate the disappearance of an Air Force test pilot. When the two agents attempt to access the restricted area around the nearby base, they see unidentified flying objects, which Mulder assumes are alien technologies. Like Scully and Mulder, I spent the past seven years investigating unmanned technologies built by the military. One of my first research experiences was walking the perimeter of Creech Air Force Base and I too have a photograph of the moment when an MQ-1 Predator flew overhead. The project however has made Mulder's belief in aliens seem a convenient alternative narrative for experiments ongoing in the Cold War and after to develop drones, while the Global War on Terror eclipses the military-alien-industrial conspiracy the two agents uncover. This paper examines choreographies (Thompson, 2006) between humans and nonhumans orchestrated in key episodes of The X-Files mythology and reads them in tandem with recent revelations about the American military and intelligence community including extrajudicial killings, rendition flights, torture and surveillance. I apply methods advocated by feminist STS scholars (Orr, 2006), which link personal narrative to accounts that emphasize the intersections between gender, race and nonhuman that tie to and produce "aliens" (Haraway, 1992). My fascination with The X-Files and problems I now find in the program offer a way to interrogate science and technology's "others" and the means by which we create and critique these formations.

Panel T059
Making Worlds: Feminist STS and everyday technoscience