How Good Soldiers Become-with Their Uniforms: An Exploration of Uniformity in Practice

Beate Sløk-Andersen

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This article examines the role of materiality in the disciplining of military subjects by taking a closer look at the practical unfolding of an overall goal of uniformity for conscripted soldiers. While much research on the subject of military uniforms has revolved around descriptive and historical mappings, this article explores the role of this specific material object in the becoming of good soldiers. This way, a productive as well as a critical perspective is applied to the subject, which is analyzed based on an ethnographic fieldwork in the Danish army.
Wearing the uniform implies certain practices, ways of talking and presenting yourself. Yet, as the uniform comes to matter in different ways through practice, conscripts are required to read and adapt to the mattering of the uniform to be recognizable as good soldiers. Through a specific attention to the mundane and embodied routines of everyday life amongst conscripted soldiers, the article argues that the uniform enables the disciplining of not only military subjects but also constitutes and disciplines a collective self, made up by conscripts bound together through uniformity. However, the belief that this uniformity conceals individuality and gender is challenged and related to questions of recognition, hereby ascribing agency to the uniform in the becoming of good soldiers. The overall argument in the article is that the materiality of the uniform takes part in performing the military subject.
Translated title of the contributionHvordan gode soldater bliver til med deres uniform. En undersøgelse af uniformitet i praksis
Original languageEnglish
JournalEthnologia Scandinavica
Pages (from-to)7-25
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

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