The Ethnography of Things Military: Empathy and Critique in Military Anthropology

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Reflecting on the troubled relationship between anthropology and the military, we do so by discussing the underlying epistemological, methodological, and moral claims of the distinction between an anthropology of and an anthropology for the military. Through the term ethnography of things military, we propose to reposition military anthropology as intense engagements with militarisation through empathic immersion in things military. We develop this term through feminist critiques of militarisation and compassion, through discussions of critique and empathy as part of (critical) ethnographic scholarship, and through anthropological debates about the relationality of fieldwork and ethnographer-interlocutor relations. Suggesting that an ethnography of things military relies on empathic engagements with military lifeworlds, we argue that the relationship between empathy and critique in military anthropology should be understood as a continuous collaborative (and not always predictable) process of interrogating military lifeworlds’ frames of reference without necessarily sharing compassion or sympathy for them.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEthnos - Journal of Anthropology
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2021

ID: 236614819