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"Seeing" an Everyday State: The Geopolitics of 20th Century United States Military Veterans
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation is a critical engagement with the myth of the reified modern state - that Leviathan that seemingly exists outside of the social while residing within the natural. In doing so it joins an effort to move the field of critical geopolitics beyond critiquing classical geopolitics to one that includes a transformative component, as expressed in the overarching field of critical theory. The undergirding methodological and theoretical approaches of this dissertation are rooted in the interplay between the semiotic, the performative, and the visual, an eclectic framework that grapples with the shifting representational practices of geopolitics - practices that are centered on maintaining a particular meta-narrative of the state - i.e., the myth of the state as a reified subject. As a means to demystify this particular paradigm of the state I look at the contradictions and the challenges proffered by a unique set of actors, soldiers and veterans. I accomplish this: military actors. This is accomplished by bringing to the forefront, through imagery, the visual and communicative performances of their everyday geopolitical practices as military actors and citizens. The three cases that make up this dissertation each address particular interconnections between soldiers, veterans, and the myth of "the state," with each employing an approach that visually interrogates the spatial and material relationships as a means to explore "the everyday" performances of their geopolitical practices. Soldiers and veterans are uniquely situated in geopolitical discourses about the state, as they are framed and/or frame themselves, depending on the context, as both "state" and "non-state" actors and, as such, through their conjoined identities can collapse the meta-narrative of the state-as-object by their very "being." In this interrogation, therefore, I add to an effort to push for a reconceptualization of the state, arguing that "it" should be re-imaged or reframed as an everyday relationship between citizens - a state as relationship rather than a state as object. This shift moves a critical geopolitical inquiry away from reproducing what it critiques, to critically engaging with the practices that produce the representations that help to constitute it.
Degree ProgramGraduate College