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What makes violence martial? Adopt a sniper and normative imaginaries of violence in the contemporary United States

Millar, Katharine M. (2021) What makes violence martial? Adopt a sniper and normative imaginaries of violence in the contemporary United States. Security Dialogue, 52 (6). 493 - 511. ISSN 1460-3640

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0967010621997226


What makes violence martial? Contemporary militarism scholarship, owing to an analytical overdetermination of the role of military institutions, frequently conflates martiality with violence writ large. Drawing upon the illustrative case of Adopt A Sniper, a US military support charity founded by police officers operating during the global war on terror and intended to help supporters ‘directly contribute to the killing of the enemy’, this article interrogates the intuitive ‘line’ between martial and other, particularly colonial, forms of violence. To do so, I develop the concept of ‘normative imaginaries of violence’ – articulations of intersubjective beliefs; political community; spatial geographies; gendered, sexualized, racialized and classed power relations; and logics of legitimation. Through this lens, and informed by the work of Frantz Fanon, the article demonstrates that though coloniality and martiality are deeply intertwined, they are neither reducible to nor epiphenomenal of each other. Through a juxtaposition of the titular sniper with two additional figures invoked by Adopt A Sniper – the militiaman and the vigilante – I outline a novel, genealogical method that enables us to trace the entangled histories of contemporary violences and identify the implicit politics of ordering at work in existing, often fragmented, analyses of political violence.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
U Military Science > U Military Science (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2020 17:24
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2024 03:27

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