Recasting military citizenship and state responsibly: nuclear test veterans and claims for healthcare in New Zealand
(Victoria University of Wellignton )
Paper short abstract:
This paper develops the notion of military citizenship to explore veterans’ healthcare claims. Focusing on New Zealand nuclear veterans I show how veterans resist and reject processes of governmental power, while also demanding increased modes of care and relationality with the State.
Paper long abstract:
During the Cold War an escalating race to develop nuclear weapons became the means by which Britain, the USSR and the USA jostled for global geopolitical supremacy. In the 1950s Britain sent thousands of servicemen to participate in secret H-bomb tests in the Pacific, and called upon its southern colonies to contribute men and expertise. Focusing on New Zealand naval men sent to participate in the British tests, this paper examines the veterans' ongoing practices of memorialisation and memory work, as well as their political and legal engagements with the state over the last 60 years, as they have struggled to gain recognition for illnesses they attribute to radiation exposure. This paper explores how nuclear test veterans wrestled with reframing personal memories of military service in relation to an increasingly post-colonial nationalism in New Zealand, as well as am emergent anti-nuclear, anti-militarism peace movement. For many men such a shift has been an uneasy one, at odds with ideals to 'serve Queen and Country', and a staunch loyalty toward the military and its hierarchies. In reworking the narratives and histories of nuclear testing service, these veterans have also helped to recast the State's responsible for their health and wellbeing in novel ways that include wider psycho-social, relational and environmental factors. This paper develops the notion of military citizenship to account for the ways in which veterans resist and reject processes of governmental power, while simultaneously demanding increased modes of care, responsibility and relationality with the State.
Veterans of liberation wars and counter-insurgencies: negotiating loss, integration, memory and trauma