P024
Soldier, security, society: ethnographies of civil-military entanglements

Convenors:
Birgitte Refslund Sørensen (University of Copenhagen)
Sabine Mannitz (Peace Research Institute Frankfurt)
Mads Daugbjerg (Aarhus University)
Stream:
Panels
Location:
A-018
Start time:
1 August, 2014 at 9:00
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

How are boundaries and relations between military and civilian worlds redrawn today? On the basis of ethnographies of soldiers' and other security providers' engagements in situations of war or situations other than war, we explore theoretical approaches to contemporary security arenas and actors.

Long abstract:

This panel explores how boundaries and relations between military and civilian worlds are redrawn today. This implies attending to entanglements and collaborations between spheres that have usually been perceived as distinct and self-contained. We invite contributors to consider, instead, the very meeting grounds between civil society and security forces as contested zones of key cultural importance. This meshing is especially pertinent given recent transformations, at the frontline and on the homefront, induced by the 'war on terror' and other conflicts. The complex setup of (co-)operations have arguably collapsed ideas of the soldier as a defender of national territories. Defending vaguer political and moral values and embodying new measures of security, the contemporary soldier is a locus of complex and confusing identifications and expectations. Moreover, we witness an increasing military engagement in security contexts other than war, contributing to an expansion of civil-military encounters. The London Olympics, the hurricane Katrina aftermath, and the anti-government demonstrations in Turkey exemplify such new meeting grounds. Often, 'pure' soldiers operate amidst related actors and forces, including police, private security companies, vigilante groups and traditional authorities. All the while, civilian support 'at home' remains a crucial concern. We invite papers that engage in ethnographic documentation and theoretical conceptualization of the borderlands between military and civilian spheres, and of the ways in which the consideration of these not as distinct, but as interconnected, might further our understanding of the complex roles of soldiers and other actors in today's security arenas.