Liberal Warriors and the Violent Colonial Logics of "Partnering and Advising"


Welland, Julia. 2015. “Liberal Warriors and the Violent Colonial Logics of ‘Partnering and Advising.’” International Feminist Journal of Politics 17 (2): 289–307. doi:10.1080/14616742.2014.890775.

Author: Julia Welland


Building on the feminist literature that traces the (re)production of militarized masculinities in and through military interventions, this article details some of the ways British soldiering subjects are being shaped in today's counterinsurgency context. Required now to be both nation builders and war fighters, contemporary soldiers are a “softer,” less masculinized subjectivity, and what Alison Howell has termed “liberal warriors.” British troops with their long history of colonialism and frequent overseas military campaigns are understood to be particularly suited to this role. Taking the British military's involvement in the “partnering and advising” of the Afghan National Army (ANA), this article pays attention to the interlocking gendered, raced, and sexualized discourses through which the British/Afghan encounter is experienced. Exploring first British troops' preoccupation with the perceived femininity and homosexuality of their Afghan counterparts, and second, Afghan hypermasculinity as demonstrated by the characterizations of their violent and chaotic fighting tactics, colonial logics are revealed. While British liberal warriors come to know “who they are” through these logics, (mis)represented Afghan soldiers are rendered increasingly vulnerable to the very “real,” very material violences of war.

Keywords: militarized masculinities, counterinsurgency, Afghanistan, ANA, colonial logics

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Male Combatants, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Livelihoods, Militarized Livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan

Year: 2015

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