Militarised Minds: The Lives of Ex-Combatants in South Africa


Maringira, Godfrey. 2015. “Militarised Minds: The Lives of Ex-Combatants in South Africa.” Sociology 49 (1): 72–87. 

Author: Godfrey Maringira


This article focuses on how ex-combatants in South Africa remain militarised. Identities which were forged through resistance continue to be reproduced in different ways in post-conflict society. Military identity is a source of status and recognition in the everyday lives of ex-combatants, either as 'defenders of the community' or for individual gain. While some may argue that there is no such thing as military identity, the group of ex-combatants interviewed remained attached to such an identity and saw themselves as having a particular role in their communities. While studies, particularly in Africa, present ex-combatants as if they can be easily transformed into civilian life, this article considers the difficulties of such a process. The argument is that it is a complex matter to demilitarise ex-combatant minds in a highly unequal and militarised community. Sixteen life history interviews were collected, 11 with APLA ex combatants and five with Zimbabwean army deserters.

Keywords: demilitarization, deserters, ex-combatants, military identity, South Africa, Zimbabwe

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, DDR, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2015

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