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Soldiering as an obstacle to manhood? Masculinities and ex-combatants in Burundi

Soldiering as an obstacle to manhood? Masculinities and ex-combatants in Burundi

Title: Soldiering as an obstacle to manhood? Masculinities and ex-combatants in Burundi
Author: Friðriksdóttir, Guðrún Sif
Date: 2018-07-18
Language: English
Scope: 1-18
University/Institute: Háskóli Íslands
University of Iceland
School: Félagsvísindasvið (HÍ)
School of Social Sciences (UI)
Department: Félagsfræði-, mannfræði- og þjóðfræðideild (HÍ)
Faculty of Sociology, Anthropology and Folkloristics (UI)
Series: Critical Military Studies;
ISSN: 2333-7486
2333-7494 (eISSN)
DOI: 10.1080/23337486.2018.1494884
Subject: Masculinities; Burundi; Socio economic status; Ex combatants; Karlmennska; Hermenn; Félagsleg staða
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11815/1964

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Friðriksdóttir, G. S. (2018). Soldiering as an obstacle to manhood? masculinities and ex-combatants in burundi. Critical Military Studies, doi:10.1080/23337486.2018.1494884


The image of the warrior as the ultimate symbol of manhood is familiar across cultures and countries. There is a large quantity of research that demonstrates the connection between militarism and masculinity, and militarized masculinities have been argued to be the hegemonic form of masculinity, particularly in conflict-affected areas. Recently, however, there has been a call for the rethinking of the connection between masculinity and violence. In this article, I explore the construction of masculinities among ex-combatants in Burundi. Based on participant observation, 18 individual interviews and four focus-group discussions, I argue that having served in an armed group has not had a significant impact on the masculinity ideas of my interlocutors. There is a weak connection between ideas of what makes a good soldier on the one hand and manhood in civilian life on the other. Marriage, fatherhood, and being the provider are the most important factors in masculinity construction in Burundi. These all require economic capital. In addition, socio-economic status is important for the power and respect that it brings. The focus on socio-economic status as the locus of masculinity construction also applies to ex-combatants, but many of them are struggling to adhere to it. My interlocutors presented their time spent in the armed group as time wasted, that would otherwise have been used on education or starting a career – in other words, on the path to achieving manhood. The narrative given was thus one of soldiering being not an avenue but an obstacle to manhood.


Post-print (lokagerð höfundar)


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Critical Military Studies on 18.07.18, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/23337486.2018.1494884.

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