Militarised Violences, Basic Training, and the Myths of Asexuality and Discipline


Welland, Julia. 2013. “Militarised Violences, Basic Training, and the Myths of Asexuality and Discipline.” Review of International Studies 39 (4):
881–902. doi:10.1017/S0260210512000605. 


Author: Julia Welland


In recent years numerous reports of prisoner abuse and other militarised violences by British troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan have emerged. Drawing on two such incidents – the abuse of detainees at Camp Breadbasket and the murder of Baha Mousa – this article seeks to locate such violences on a continuum that can be traced back to the ways in which British soldiers are trained. Following on from a burgeoning feminist literature on militarised masculinities, and using Avery Gordon’s epistemology of ghosts and hauntings, I suggest a conceptual and methodological intervention into the subject that resists generalised stories and the mapping of ‘hard’ borders. Focusing on the myths of asexuality and discipline that emerge from, and reinforce, the gendered discourses of basic training, I conduct a ‘ghost hunt’ of the haunting spectres that have attempted to be exorcised from these myths. Making visible these ghost(s) and tracing their (violent) materialisations through multiple sites and across a continuum, militarised violences – in all their ranges – begin to be made explicable. 


Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Violence Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, Iraq

Year: 2013

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