Saving Private Sychev: Russian Masculinities, Army Hazing, and Social Norms


Lowry, Anna U. 2008. “Saving Private Sychev: Russian Masculinities, Army Hazing, and Social Norms.” Berkeley Journal of Sociology 52: 73-100.

Author: Anna U. Lowry


This paper examines the recent case of Andrei Sychev, a former soldier in the Russian army who lost his legs and genitals as a result of a violent hazing. Reviewing extensive media coverage of and debate over the significance of this incident, the author identifies the debate's main participants, including military officials, politicians, members of the Soldiers' Mothers movement, and medical experts. An analysis of their discourses (nationalist, liberal, medical-scientific) and premises, informed by Foucauldian theory and masculinity studies, is presented, revealing important discrepancies and occasionally surprising overlap among their interpretations of the incident. Ultimately, the paper seeks to understand the Sychev affair as a discursive knot in which conflicting notions of Russian masculinity and norms of citizenship are tied together. It concludes with a reflection on the challenges that the human rights group Soldiers ' Mothers face in their struggle to redefine the dominant norms.

Topics: Citizenship, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Nationalism, Violence Regions: Asia, Europe Countries: Russian Federation

Year: 2008

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