Of bats and bodies: methods for reading and writing embodiment

Dyvik, Synne L (2017) Of bats and bodies: methods for reading and writing embodiment. In: Dyvik, Synne L and Greenwood, Lauren (eds.) Embodying militarism: exploring the spaces and bodies in between. Routledge, New York and Abingdon, pp. 56-70. ISBN 9781138715196

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Military memoirs are embodied texts of war. They therefore pose particular challenges to scholars who work with them, as they seem to insist on the uniqueness of particular wartime experiences and the impossibility of communicating these embodied experiences to a wider public. In this article I unpack some of the tensions in the ways that war scholarship approaches these ‘flesh-witness accounts’ and argue that these can productively be challenged, in ways that open up new possibilities for research methods. I begin by explaining what is meant by ‘flesh-witnessing’ and the significance of corporeal experience in constructing particular stories about war. From this I argue that while placing significance on embodiment when studying war is crucial, embodiment is not a concept that should be assigned to others ‘over there’, without also acknowledging how it works within ‘us’ ‘back home’ as civilians and scholars. Rather, embodiment as a concept compels us to analyse its numerous ‘entanglements’, which in turn challenge us to rethink the relationship between the ‘author’ and the ‘reader’ of military memoirs. Reflecting on my own work with these memoirs, and learning to pay attention to what I do and feel as I read and write, I chart a series of methods for reading and writing embodiment.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex Centre for Conflict and Security Research
Depositing User: Synne Dyvik
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2017 09:58
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2019 16:05
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/69401
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