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FrontlineCombat and Cohesion in Twenty-First Century$
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Anthony King

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198719663

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198719663.001.0001

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Subaltern Soldiers

Subaltern Soldiers

Eurocentricism and the Nation-State in the Combat Motivation Debates

(p.24) 2 Subaltern Soldiers

Tarak Barkawi

Oxford University Press

Debates over combat motivation presuppose a set of Eurocentric assumptions about soldiers and armies. These include the notions that armies are modern, that Western national armies constitute the norm against which to conceive and study armies in general, and that ethnic or national identities take essentialist form. This chapter shows how these assumptions have shaped the debates and foreclosed other analytic possibilities. In particular, ethnicity and the nation were used to resolve the indeterminacies of primary group theory. Foreign and colonial armies—subaltern soldiers—are used to critique Eurocentrism and open up new directions for inquiry. The chapter goes on to develop Anthony King’s practical paradigm, which foreground specific situational and contextual factors in shaping the actions of soldiers.

Keywords:   Eurocentrism, combat motivation, ethnicity, national identity, subaltern, colonial armies, primary group

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