Abstract

This article investigates the continued presence of the bayonet in the face of rapid and sustained military-technological change, and argues that the technical characteristics of this simple weapon are minimally implicated in its longevity. Rather, the bayonet’s continuing military effectiveness is conjured out of a collection of social practices amongst which the physical artifact is embedded during the process of training soldiers. The purpose of these practices is to forge strong associations between bayonet and aggressive behavior, thereby bolstering the moral fortitude of soldiers in times of battlefield crisis. The real “point” of the bayonet is therefore psychological, as opposed to material, in character.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1097-3729
Print ISSN
0040-165X
Pages
pp. 885-908
Launched on MUSE
2012-11-20
Open Access
No
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