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This essay examines the critical and social potential of the contemporary performance projects of an Iraqi American artist, Wafaa Bilal. It argues that close attention to the nonvisual sensory elements of his work offers a method of gleaning evidence of the histories, geographies, and sentiments of those disappeared by US military operations in the Middle East and South Asia. The concept of a “queer calculus” is presented as an alternative mode of understanding the proliferation of drone warfare and the dominant militarized vision of U.S. imperialism that lies at its core. Queer calculus is a theoretical strategy that generates an account of persistent systems and structures undergirding U.S. global counterinsurgency warfare and alternative logics, affects, and affiliations produced by racialized subjects in response. Through close readings of Bilal’s performances, the essay identifies ethical practices and perceptual regimes that access the untold histories absented by the abstractions of the war.

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