Alexandra Hyde (Gender Institute, LSE)
This paper is based on an ethnographic study of a British Army camp overseas, from the perspective of civilian women married to servicemen. By focusing on the experiences and attitudes of ‘military wives’ within the Army’s social and institutional structure, the aim of this research is to investigate the ways in which the depth and scope of militarisation might be argued to be contingent upon or indeed, mediated by other factors such as gender, race, class, sexuality and national identity. My initial analysis suggests that the terms of the Regiment’s cohesion as a community overseas are negotiated through a range of formal and informal, material and cultural ‘bargains’ with the military.
In the additional context of the Regiment’s recent deployment to Afghanistan, this ethnography also offers some observations on the multiple modes of mobility, absence, mobilization and separation that characterise both the camp’s community as a whole, and the flux of everyday life for military families. In my tentative conceptualisation, I aim to account for a more fluid, productive tension between what I call ‘military mobilities’ and the Regiment’s rigid hierarchies, fixed structure, prescribed traditions and sovereign status. Using ethnographic examples, I will elaborate upon the places where the borderlines of the military merge into the civilian, extend beyond the public life of the institution into the domestic sphere and, in the particular circumstances of the Regiment’s multiple locations, occupy what might be argued as ‘transnational’ social space.
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Part of Between Civilisation and Militarisation Group, series.
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