Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationChicago, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9291
Approve DateApril 19, 2016
Project TitleDrake, Ashley E., U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Militarizing Affection: The Making of the Military Working Dog Team,' supervised by Dr. Martha K. McClintock
ASHLEY E. DRAKE, then a graduate student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded funding in April 2016 to aid research on ‘Militarizing Affection: The Making of the Military Working Dog Team,’ supervised by Dr. Martha K. McClintock. This project explores the U.S. Military’s attempts to engineer and deploy human-animal affective relationships as biotechnological equipment. Biotechnology is increasingly prioritized as the ultimate source for the next wave of military innovation and typically involves manipulating nonhuman organisms or processes to develop new products. However, not every form of biotechnology fits within this framework. One of the most effective types of defense biotechnology, the military working dog team, relies less upon physical resource extraction and more upon the emergence of an affective bond between human and dog. Using 12 months of data collected with military working dogs, handlers, trainers, and veterinary staff at two military bases, this project examines: 1) how militarized conceptions about biotechnology are being used to leverage ‘affective capital’ in economies of state violence, and 2) the impact these affective biotechnologies have on handlers’ experiences during and after deployment. This project aims to show how bonding between military working dogs and their handlers complicates narratives of biotechnology by positioning affective relationships as weaponry. As such, this research presents an opportunity to reexamine the ways biotechnology loops back to transform how people think about their relationships with non-human others.