Author Archives: Colleen Bell

About Colleen Bell

Assistant professor of international relations at Brock University. She is author of The Freedom of Security: Governing Canada in the Age of Counter-Terrorism (UBC, 2011) which examines how logics of counterterrorism have become embedded in the politics of freedom in Canada. Currently she is working on a project that examines the role of civilian technologies in modern counterinsurgency. Recent work can be found in the Journal of International Relations and Development and the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding.

Hybrid Warfare and Its Metaphors

An investigation of counterinsurgency as a hybrid model of warfare that enacts targeted killing while supporting the life of the population. Useful to this dual objective are metaphors of infectious disease in the body to characterize the problem of insurgency within a population. Bell first examines how cultural awareness programming is designed to create versatile soldiers who can inflict death while also supporting life. Her discussion then turns to how metaphors of disease, treatment and immunity are posed as efforts to save and strengthen the (social) body alongside the task of defeating insurgency, elucidating the close proximity posited between life and death in hybrid warfare. The paradigm of immunity, as theorized by Roberto Esposito, captures not only this duality between life and death but connects it to the powerful desire to protect self from “other.” Hybrid warfare draws upon the authority and apparent benevolence of medical metaphors to clarify and render urgent the long-term, socially corrective intervention that it proscribes. It lays bare and deepens distinctions between forms of life in global relations and fails to take seriously the opposition encountered.