Travelling syndromes: The United Nations medical standards, peacekeeping and military subjectivities
Eva van Roekel
(Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
Paper short abstract:
Peacekeeper's Stress-Syndrome is a new stress syndrome that travels between medical military spaces across the globe. By analysing how Argentinian peacekeepers become enmeshed in transnational regimes of conflict and care this paper explores how military subjectivities are in the making.
Paper long abstract:
This paper addresses the transnational network of policies, persons, institutions and regimes of knowledge that shape military health policies worldwide. Peacekeeping health risks have recently become an area of focused interest in both scholarly and public fields, such as the Medical Support Manual for United Nations Field Missions (2015). Since the 1990s, the Argentinian military has adjusted psychological treatment to these UN policies (Sotomayor 2007, 179). Within these travelling treatments and diagnoses, it is recognized that peacekeeping operations, based on humanitarian aid and unclear obligations of UN mandates, produce a unique type of military distress. This new syndrome, Peacekeeper's Stress-Syndrome, involves feelings of boredom, vulnerability and humiliation. The paper explores how travelling syndromes interrelate to local health practices and military subjectivities in the global South, which constitute more than 90% of the employed peacekeepers. In my current research project, the Argentinian peacekeepers serve as a micro-cosmos in which to examine the contemporary mobility and settlement of military medical policies concerning peacekeepers' health. Argentinian peacekeepers at the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus have patrolled the buffer zone to prevent a recurrence of violence between Greek and Turkish Cypriots for decades. How do they contest and internalize UN policies and deployment treatments? How do the Argentinian medical facilities change due to these new standards? Based on ongoing ethnographic fieldwork in Cyprus and Argentina, I will analyse how Argentinian peacekeepers and medical staff become enmeshed in complex and continuously changing regimes of care through which new military subjectivities are in the making.
To the "front" and back "home" again: military mobilities and the social transitions they entail