The Agency of Liminality: Army Wives in the DR Congo and the Tactical Reversal of Militarization

Eriksson Baaz, Maria and Verweijen, Judith (2016) The Agency of Liminality: Army Wives in the DR Congo and the Tactical Reversal of Militarization. Critical Military Studies, 3 (3). pp. 267-286. ISSN 2333-7486

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Abstract

The inherently unstable boundaries between military and civilian worlds have emerged as a main object of study within the field of critical military studies. This article sheds light on the (re)production of these boundaries by attending to a group that rarely features in the debates on the military/civilian divide: army wives in a ‘non-Northern’ context, more specifically the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Drawing upon the ‘analytical toolbox’ of governmentality, we explore how civilian and military positionalities are called upon, articulated and subverted in the governing and self-governing of Congolese army wives. We show the decisive importance of these wives’ civilian-military ‘in betweenness’ both in efforts to govern them and in their exercise of agency, in particular
The inherently unstable boundaries between military and civilian worlds have emerged as a main object of study within the field of critical military studies. This article sheds light on the (re)production of these boundaries by attending to a group that rarely features in the debates on the military/civilian divide: army wives in a ‘non-Northern’ context, more specifically the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Drawing upon the ‘analytical toolbox’ of governmentality, we explore how civilian and military positionalities are called upon, articulated, and subverted in the governing and self-governing of Congolese army wives. We show the decisive importance of these wives’ civilian–military ‘in-betweenness’ both in efforts to govern them and in their exercise of agency, in particular the ways in which they ‘tactically reverse’ militarization. The article also demonstrates the dispersed nature of the governing arrangements surrounding army wives, highlighting the vital role of ‘the civilian’ as well as the ‘agency of those being militarized’ within processes of militarization. By foregrounding the relevance of studying Congolese army wives and their militarization with an analytical toolbox often reserved for so called ‘advanced militaries/societies’, and by revealing numerous similarities between the Congolese and ‘Northern’ contexts, the article also sets out to counter the Euro/US-centrism and ‘theoretical discrimination’ that mark present-day (critical) military studies.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Depositing User: Judith Verweijen
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2018 10:16
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2020 09:41
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/79029

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