In recent years there has been a ‘turn’ to thinking about war through the embodied experiences of those touched by it. While this scholarship has generated numerous important insights it has also overwhelmingly remained focused on experiences of violence, horror, grief and trauma. In this article, the experiences of pleasure and joy in war that simultaneously take place are given centre stage. Taking an aesthetic approach and drawing on three war novels, the article tracks three recurring experiences of pleasure and joy that occur within the warscape: bodily pleasures, the ‘togetherness’ of war, and moments of joy that escape war’s reach. Through this focus, war is shown to work across a range of affective registers and as never totalising or universalising in its experience. The article argues that paying attention to joy and pleasure can work to displace war as a focus of analysis, directing attention instead to the experiences of those who live through war and how they survive, sustain and resist it.
About the speaker
Julia Welland is an Assistant Professor of War Studies at the University of Warwick. Her broad research interests include feminist approaches to global politics; war, militarism and militarisation; and critical military studies. Dr. Welland has previously researched the gender relations of the recent counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan, and is currently working on a three year research project exploring experiences of joy and pleasure amongst military veterans in order to produce a fuller conception of war and militarism’s affective landscapes, and they become an accepted part of national life.
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