'Streamlined for efficiency': narratives of change and the lives of 'military wives' in an Irish military camp
(Trinity College Dublin)
Paper short abstract:
This paper focuses on changes in the Curragh Military Camp in Ireland and the cessation of providing married quarters. The defence forces’ ‘streamlined for efficiency’ has gendered consequences for the lives of ‘military wives’ and in terms of shifting boundaries between military/civilian worlds.
Paper long abstract:
The Curragh Camp in Co. Kildare, Ireland is the main training facility for the Irish Defence Forces. The Irish State inherited the camp together with its physical and social structure from the British Army in 1922 following the war of independence. A feature of the inherited structure was the practice of providing married quarters to soldiers and their families. From the 1980s the Irish Defence forces initiated disengagement from this practice. Drawing on interviews and ethnography exploring the experiences of 'military wives' connected to the Curragh Camp, I argue, changes in relation to married quarters can be seen to illustrate a gendered transformation of civilian/military relations and boundaries. Specifically, the military no longer want civilians living in the camp. This is evident from the physical changes in the camp - the majority of married quarters have been demolished and from the implications felt by those who remain. During a walk around the camp 'Walter', a retired soldier, remarked - 'The army wants rid of civilians end of ', (March, 2013). As civilians in a military camp, the wives of soldiers were always in an anomalous position, and the anomaly has become more apparent with policy decisions to stop providing married quarters. Theoretically this paper draws on the intersection of gender, place, the military and the state. Drawing on narrative interviews the paper focuses on changes in relation to married quarters, exploring the meaning of the Irish Defence Forces 'streamlining for efficiency' for 'military wives' connected to the camp.
Soldier, security, society: ethnographies of civil-military entanglements