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Accepted Paper:

“Preparing for war”: everyday militarism in a North Indian small town campus.  

Author:

Nikolaus Gerold (University of Melbourne)

Paper short abstract:

By closely examining young people's engagement with everyday militarism in a college campus in small town India, this project sheds light on the various motivations that underlie processes of militarisation.

Paper long abstract:

India has a strong tradition of separation between the civilian and the military. However, against the backdrop of the contemporary assertion of India’s place in the world, the current right-wing government and other powerful institutions increasingly blur the distinction between civil and military spheres by invoking the military model as a template for a rapid transformation of a malfunctioning India and a laissez-faire attitude of its civilians.

This paper discusses how these attempts to militarise everyday life of Indian citizens materialise in a small-town college in the North Indian state of Uttarakhand. Since this state represents one of the traditional recruiting grounds of the Indian army, everyday life is marked by the presence of ex-servicemen, aspiring soldiers as well as civilians who were not able to join the defence sector but nevertheless glorify the military. Local youth, who are the primary casualty of joblessness in this socio-economically disadvantaged region, are conceived of as “at risk/as risk”. Teachers, professors as well as student politicians from right-wing parties and social workers of a fascist organisation try to “prevent them from drifting off into negativity” by instilling in them ethics of a self-responsible and patriotic citizen-entrepreneur. Celebrating a “cult of exposure”, these actors confront college students with everyday drills and ideas that borrow heavily from the military sphere. By looking at these attempts to infuse the sphere of higher education with a militaristic ethos, this paper will demonstrate how students creatively adopt these discourses and practices in order to pursue their own future goals.

Panel P077
Securitized Education: critical perceptions on the entanglements between military, security and education [Anthropology of Security Network, Peace and Conflict Studies in Anthropology PACSA]