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Title: 'Thinking soldiers' : the construction of subjectivity in the era of the Korean War
Author: Huxford, Grace
ISNI:       0000 0004 5349 8682
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis explores the significance of the Korean War (1950–1953) to British social history. In particular, it examines the subjectivity of individuals who served in the British military during this 'forgotten war'. It uses the conflict as a case study through which to understand the influence of the state in shaping individuals in the Cold War period. This thesis suggests that the construction, control and efficiency of human subjects – and of the soldier in particular – were key concerns for all combatant nations involved in the Cold War. In their recent studies of life-writing Igal Halfin and Jochen Hellbeck argue that state mechanisms were paramount in moulding subjectivity in Soviet Russia, but this thesis argues (also using life-writing as the principal source) that such historical discussion should be extended to other contexts. From the psychological assessment of new recruits to the interrogation of returned prisoners of war, British authorities in the mid-twentieth century repeatedly projected their ideal models of ‘thinking’ military subjects. In making such an argument, this thesis references a particularly influential body of work on the construction of subjectivity which began in the late 1980s, including work by Nikolas Rose, Anthony Giddens and Mike Savage. Yet the following chapters also suggest that there are limits to these interpretations. Using the under-researched and under-theorised letters, diaries, poetry and memoirs of British servicemen (from a range of social and military backgrounds) this thesis argues that soldiers frequently deviated from the models that were presented to them or were ambivalent towards to the structures that sought to shape them into uniform, and uniformed, subjects. In different contexts and over time, this thesis shows how the meaning of being a 'thinking soldier' of the Korean War changed profoundly, with ramifications for society more broadly.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Warwick ; Royal Historical Society ; Wolfson College (University of Oxford) ; Social History Society of the UK
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DS Asia