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Warrior Ways

Explorations in Modern Military Folklore

Eric Eliason and Tad Tuleja

Publication Year: 2012

Warrior Ways is one of the first book-length explorations of military folklife, and focuses on the lore produced by modern American warriors, illuminating the ways in which members of the armed services creatively express the complex experience of military life. In short, lively essays, contributors to the volume, all of whom have close personal or professional relationships to the military, examine battlefield talismans, personal narrative (storytelling), “Jody calls” (marching and running cadences), slang, homophobia and transgressive humor, music, and photography, among other cultural expressions.

Military folklore does not remain in an isolated subculture; it reveals our common humanity by delighting, disturbing, infuriating, and inspiring both those deeply invested in and those peripherally touched by military life. Highlighting the contemporary and historical importance of the military in American life, Warrior Ways will be of interest to scholars and students of folklore, anthropology, and popular culture; those involved in veteran services and education; and general readers interested in military culture.

Published by: Utah State University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v


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pp. vii-viii

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p. ix-ix

Preliminary versions of several essays in this volume appeared in a double panel on military folklore presented at the 2010 American Folklore Society meeting in Nashville. We thank Lydia Fish for suggesting the panel and ...

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Introduction: Modern Military Folklore, Retrospect and Prospects

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pp. 1-15

As countless recruits have been told by their boot camp instructors, “There’s a right way, a wrong way, and the Army way. You will learn to do it the Army way.” The familiar adage reflects not only the armed forces’ perhaps exaggerated reputation for inflexibility, but the less debatable fact ...

Part I: Deploying

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1. The Things They Bring to War

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pp. 19-37

Today’s US Army soldiers deploy with three sets of grayish green ACUs (Army combat uniforms) or three sets of the more trendy “multicams”; with a helmet that comes with pads, strap, and cover; with three pairs of G.I. boots that soldiers mold to their feet by wearing them, when new, in the ...

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2. Know Thy Enemy: Camel Spider Stories among US Troops in the Middle East

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pp. 38-57

In a classic study of social psychology written toward the end of World War II, Robert Knapp stated that rumors thrive in conditions of “social duress” and that war, which “focuses and intensifies the emotional life of the public,” is an especially fertile ground for their circulation (1944, 22). More ...

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3. “Folk-Folkloristics”: Reflections on American Soldiers’ Responses to Afghan Traditional Culture

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pp. 58-76

Since 1997 I have taught folklore at Brigham Young University. But from 2002 to 2008 I also served in the Utah Army National Guard as a chaplain for the First Battalion of the Nineteenth Special Forces Group (Airborne). In 2004 I took academic leave to serve a tour of duty in Afghanistan. My ...

Part II: Sounding Off

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4. Where Is Jody Now? Reconsidering Military Marching Chants

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pp. 79-98

In the spring of 1944, an African American US soldier named Willie Duckworth was on detached service at Fort Slocum, a provisional training center in New York State. To motivate his recruits to march in step during close-order drill, Duckworth used the catchy, rhythmic call-and-response ...

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5. Upper Echelons and Boots on the Ground: The Case for Diglossia in the Military

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pp. 99-115

When young men and women make the transition from civilian to military life, they are subjected to what George Rich and David Jacobs once described as “a process of forced acculturation” to make them culturally competent in their new situation (1973, 164). To acquire cultural ...

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6. Sea Service Slang: Informal Language of the Navy and Coast Guard - Angus Kress Gillespie

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pp. 116-136

One function of an occupational folk group’s slang is to distinguish the members of the group from outsiders, and thus to nurture a linguistic cohesion among those “in the know.” Carol Burke alludes to this fact when she comments that the military’s “informal vocabulary” serves, at the most basic ...

Part III: Belonging

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7. Taser to the ’Nads: Brutal Embrace of Queerness in Military Practice

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pp. 139-160

Queers and the military have made strange bedfellows in American history. The relationship resembles that of two lovers in a forbidden, secret affair in which one partner is abusive, and neither of them can say good-bye. The following is an account of the uneasy dynamics of homophobia in military ...

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8. Making Lemonade: Military Spouses’ Worldview as a Coping Mechanism

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pp. 161-180

In Wives and Warriors: Women and the Military in the United States and Canada, editor Laurie Weinstein writes that when their spouses are present, military wives “must ascribe to the norms of femininity (be passive, submissive, and dependent on men), yet when the men go on deployment, ...

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9. Oppositional Positioning: The Military Identification of Young Antiwar Veterans

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pp. 181-201

On November 4, 2008, the same day that Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, a group of young American veterans, most of whom had served in the current conflict in Iraq, opened Coffee Strong, an antiwar coffeehouse and nonprofit organization located outside of two ...

Part IV: Remembering

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10. Colonel Bogey’s March through Folk and Popular Culture - Greg Kelley

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pp. 205-221

Frederick Joseph Ricketts, venerated as the “British March King,” stands as one of Britain’s finest composers of military music. He is touted as England’s answer to Sousa. Born in East London to a Shadwell coal merchant in 1881, Ricketts was orphaned by the age of fourteen and lied about his age in ...

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11. Soldier Snaps - Jay Mechling

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pp. 222-247

In March 2011, the German magazine and news organization Der Spiegel published a series of graphic photographs that had been seized by the US Army in their months-long investigation of five soldiers charged with murder and conspiracy in the deaths of three unarmed Afghans in 2010. ...

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12. “America’s Best”: Cultural Poaching on “Ballad of the Green Berets”

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pp. 248-270

In 1965, more than 180,000 American troops were stationed in Vietnam. That spring, responding to a Vietcong attack on the US army base at Pleiku, President Johnson approved the continuous bombing of North Vietnam known as Operation Rolling Thunder. Soon afterward, teach-ins ...

Selected Bibliographies

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pp. 271-276


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pp. 277-280


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pp. 281-287

E-ISBN-13: 9780874219043
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874219036

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2012