Liberal Militarism as Insecurity, Desire and Ambivalence: Gender, Race and the Everyday Geopolitics of War

Citation:

Basham, Victoria M. 2018. “Liberal Militarism as Insecurity, Desire and Ambivalence: Gender, Race and the Everyday Geopolitics of War.” Security Dialogue 49 (1-2): 32-43.

Author: Victoria M. Basham

Abstract:

The use and maintenance of military force as a means of achieving security makes the identity and continued existence of states as legitimate protectors of populations intelligible. In liberal democracies, however, where individual freedom is the condition of existence, citizens have to be motivated to cede some of that freedom in exchange for security. Accordingly, liberal militarism becomes possible only when military action and preparedness become meaningful responses to threats posed to the social body, not just the state, meaning that it relies on co-constitutive practices of the geopolitical and the everyday. Through a feminist discursive analysis of British airstrikes in Syria and attendant debates on Syrian refugees, I examine how liberal militarism is animated through these co-constitutive sites, with differential effects. Paying particular attention to gender and race, I argue that militarism is an outcome of social practices characterized as much by everyday desires and ambivalence as by fear and bellicosity. Moreover, I aim to show how the diffuse and often uneven effects produced by liberal militarism actually make many liberal subjects less secure. I suggest therefore that despite the claims of liberal states that military power provides security, for many militarism is insecurity.

Keywords: critical military studies, desire and ambivalence, everyday, gender and race, insecurity, liberal militarism

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarism, Race, Security Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East, Europe, Northern Europe Countries: Syria, United Kingdom

Year: 2018

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