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Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.46
Close With and Kill The Enemy: Contesting representations of violence, gender and military combat
‘Nowhere is the notion of war as a mans game more entrenched than in state militaries’ (Basham 2016) ’Simply put the infantry will be more effective in war if we include the best talent our country can breed - male and female’ (MOD 2018) In 2016 women were invited to take up ‘close with and kill the enemy’ fighting roles in the British military. The Ministry of Defence said these changes demonstrated equal opportunities. In the same year the cultural theorist Victoria Basham wrote, ‘the relationship between armed force and masculinities is possibly the most salient and cross-culturally stable aspect of gendered politics.’ But are these representations either stable or entrenched? This paper focusses on a deconstructivist methodology through which I explore instabilities associated with the gender construction of military warriors in British Army recruitment films: In some of the original films that I deconstruct, masculinities are conveyed through comforting motifs of tea and belonging. In others, female soldiers perform hand to hand combat and physical endurance roles. My films combine theory with performance practice and borrowed footage. Through the process of cutting, isolating, repeating and fragmenting existing films I challenge how subjectivities are constructed and subverted. I draw on theorisations by Derrida, Butler, Benjamin and Weil to explore the blind spots and inconsistencies within the texts. This presentation comprises of a film and performed paper which outlines a practice led methodological approach. It forms part of a wider PHD research project on the construction of gender, militarism and violence.