ethnography of good machines -ken macleish

“This essay describes a critical approach to the study of military institutions through ethnographic attention to the predicaments of survival, endurance and the management of life exposed to death is that are central to the embodied experience of military personnel. This approach draws attention to the way that the institutionalized practice of war shapes and takes shape in the lives, bodies and feelings most directly bound up in its production and effects. Standard lines of questioning about contemporary war’s ostensive roots, aims and effects often take for granted the expectations and limits surrounding how human life is exposed to, sheltered from and empowered to carry out violence and harm—features of contemporary life in liberal democratic states that take on especially acute and contradictory form in military institutions. Critical accounts of war as embodied experience provide both a destabilizing challenge to the things we think we already know about war and a generative, concrete anchor to urgent questions about it.”

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