Ethical interventions: Non-lethal weapons and the governance of insecurity

This article employs some of the theoretical and methodological tools devised by Michel Foucault to explore the political rationale suggested by the proliferation and use of a class of weapons collectively referred to as ‘non-lethal’. The invention and continued use of non-lethal weapons has been treated in existing literature as an ethical crisis. This article connects the emergence of non-lethal weaponry to the mobilization of a sense of ethical crisis concerning the humane treatment of civilians and combatants in conflicts in the United States and beyond. Policies related to non-lethal weaponry, along with the practices that they engender, are also explored in relation to the notion of ‘partial citizenship’. Offering a contribution to the genealogy of non-lethal weapons, this article traces their involvement in the policing by US military agents of a variety of sites, actors, and contexts outside of the theater of war.