Accepted paper:

M*E*S*H: civil-military entanglements among Danish ISAF troops


Thomas Randrup Pedersen (Royal Danish Defence College)

Paper short abstract:

How do Danish soldiers interweave civil and military worlds through the use of ‘strategies’ and ‘tactics’? Based on ethnographic fieldwork inside Danish ISAF units, this paper explores (re)configurations of civil-military interfaces and their effects on experiences of military life and death.

Paper long abstract:

In February 2009, a homecoming parade for Danish Afghanistan veterans was held in the streets of the garrison town of Holstebro. The parade was the first of its kind in Denmark in our time. This reinvented parading tradition exemplifies just one of many relatively new ways in which civil-military interfaces are (re)configured in the wake of Denmark's recent military engagements around the world. Based on an on-going ethnographic fieldwork inside two of the very last Danish combat units deployed to Afghanistan, the aim of this paper is to explore how civil and military worlds are interwoven before, during, and after deployment to the Afghan Province of Helmand. The paper follows the tank platoon Loki and the force protection section Fenris and makes its way through civil-military borderlands in garrison towns, at army barracks, on military training grounds, and in the Afghan theatre of war. The paper seeks in part to provide novel ethnographic insights into how Danish soldiers in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) relate to the military Other, the civilian, and, in part, to contribute to the theorisation of civil-military entanglements by drawing in particular upon de Certeau's notions of 'strategy' and 'tactic'. Especially, the paper strives to further our understanding of how the mesh of civil-military relations affects the Loki and Fenris personnel's sense of agency, and, by implication, the making of their experiences of military life and death.

panel P024
Soldier, security, society: ethnographies of civil-military entanglements