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The body weaponised: war, sexual violence and the uncanny

Kirby, Paul (2019) The body weaponised: war, sexual violence and the uncanny. Security Dialogue. ISSN 0967-0106 (In Press)

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How does the body become a weapon? Posing the question presumes the existence of a problem: that there is something puzzling in the body taking weapon form. The body is of course always implicated in acts of violence. Since humans are irrevocably embodied, war cannot be made without a great multitude of corporeal investments, among them patriotism’s elevation of the heart rate; the labour power of military logistics; the physical transformations of basic training; and population displacements in war’s wake. Yet for all the banality of embodiment, some bodily harms continue to exert a special fascination by virtue of their intensity, and so appear exceptional in comparison to the quotidian traffic of war. Recent works have taken up the experience of the suicide bomber, the self-immolator, and the hunger striker as exemplary (Wilcox, 2015; Fierke, 2012; Bargu, 2014). The body that captivates, that prompts ethical reflection or provides resources for understanding power, is most often the body of war’s victim (e.g. Gregory, 2016). ‘The body’ - both actual and abstract - thus figures significantly in critical military and feminist literatures as an anchor for experience, a reminder of shared vulnerability and moral obligation, and a rebuke against theoretical abstractions (see e.g. Sylvester 2012). The body, in Swati Parashar’s suggestive phrase, is a ‘log book’ of war (Parashar, 2013: 626).

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Divisions: IGA: Centre for Women Peace and Security
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2019 09:09
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2020 00:21

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