Working through Warfare in Ukraine: Rethinking Militarization in a Ukrainian Theme Café

Citation:

Uehling, Greta Lynn. 2020. “Working through Warfare in Ukraine: Rethinking Militarization in a Ukrainian Theme Café.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 22 (3): 335–58.

Author: Greta Lynn Uehling

Abstract:

The conflict between Ukraine and Russia in the Donbas region has led both countries to strengthen their respective militaries. The literature on militarization emphasizes the subtle and largely unconscious ways in which militarization spreads through society. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted between 2015 and 2017, I argue that attention to the intersubjective aspects of the process exposes the self-conscious working through of military realities. I make this argument using the case study of a restaurant run by demobilized fighters, Café Patriot. Specifically, I show how the café’s proprietors aimed to provide an anti-depressive atmosphere for fighters, and to provoke critical thinking among non-combatant patrons. The café challenged theorizing on militarization by effacing the separation between military and civilian as predicted, but doing so in the interest of reminding people of militarization rather than blinding them to it. These findings highlight veterans’ constructive efforts to re-inhabit a fractured world, and contrast with portrayals in critical studies of militarized masculinity. In sum, the café represented an effort to intervene in the process of militarization using, strangely enough, the trappings of militarization. At stake is the definition of militarization as an insidious process.

Keywords: militarization, masculinity, gender, emotions, veterans, feminism

Topics: Gender, Masculinity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization Regions: Europe, Eastern Europe Countries: Ukraine

Year: 2020

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