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Title: Duty to dissent : critical patriotism and discourses of the US Military in Iraq
Author: Tidy, Joanna
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis presents an account of contemporary military dissent in the United States in which dissent is practised through continuities and negotiations of the military subjectivity of the soldier dissenter. The project focuses upon a strand of contemporary US military dissent characterised by critical patriotism, in which dissent is represented as part of the continuing duty of the soldier and congruent with American ideals. The analysis is grounded in a conceptualisation of military subjectivity, with its immanent security logics, as simultaneously the resource for, and the target of, dissent. Therefore, the approach avoids conceptualising military subjects as straightforward conduits for state power and official discourse. To explore these dynamics, the thesis presents an analysis of veterans group Iraq Veterans Against the War (2008-2012), the writing of military blogger The Usual Suspect (2005-2009), and the release by Wikileaks' of the 'Collateral Murder' footage (2010). The analysis utilises a synthesis of theory drawing on Laclau and Mouffe's discourse theory, ideas of public memory, a Foucauldian conceptualisation of power, and Butler's account of the subject and performativity. The thesis focuses on representations of killing in Iraq within the discursive struggle to define the public memory of the US experience in Iraq after 2003. The key findings of the thesis are that the concept of 'ground truth' is highly significant in critical patriotic discourses of dissent; that such dissent involves the re-working of soldierly subjectivity; that representations produce the ground truths of soldiers' experiences as inimical to that subjectivity; and that critical patriotic military dissent can reinforce the privileges, silences and absences it seems to disrupt. This thesis has implications for critical security studies which lie in foregrounding the contingency of the subject in 'alternative' accounts and projects of change. The thesis also has implications for our understanding of military dissent - and dissent more broadly - as it argues for dissenters to be conceptualised not as wielders of dissenting political strategy but as the strategy itself.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available