Veterans’ Homecomings - Secrecy and Postdeployment Social Becoming – Københavns Universitet

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27. januar 2016

Veterans’ Homecomings - Secrecy and Postdeployment Social Becoming

For Danish soldiers, returning from the battlefields and army camps of international operations to the tranquility of everyday life at home can be a challenging and unsettling experience. Homecoming is often particularly daunting for veterans who leave the army and are compelled to develop a new social identity and find a meaningful life in the civilian world. When doing so, they need to navigate an ambiguous political environment and emergent public imaginaries of the veteran while also wrestling with their own military socialization and personal experiences of war. The certainty previously provided the soldier by rank, function, and mission vanishes and translates into an imperative ontological question about possible veteran subjectivity. In this article I argue that the veterans’ struggle to create post deployment, post military social identities entails profound secrecy work where past experiences, present conditions, and future ambitions are embedded in webs of concealment, disclosure, exposure, deception, lying, silence, and so forth, only partially controlled by the veterans themselves. The intricacies and anxieties associated with secrecy work are discussed in relation to three veteran trajectories that reflect some of the possible positions thatcontemporary Danish veterans see for themselves in Danish society  

Birgitte Refslund Sørensen: "Veteran´s Homecomings - Secrecy and Postdeployment Social Becoming"; Current Anthropology vol 56; December 2015