This essay offers a wide-ranging survey of the uneven and plural militarization of US war culture and everyday life during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. It argues that the cultural authority and representational confidence of recent war culture draws on the “consolidated vision” of empire, but that paradoxically its power is based not on grand narratives but rests on much more partial, fragmented, and incoherent representations of wartime. It explores the unstable “homeland” imaginary constituted around the militarization and racialization of urban policing and surveillance since the Cold War recently contested by Black Lives Matter; the distancing, dominant representations of wars abroad through high tech warfare and hypermasculine paramilitary special forces; the emergent normalization of torture and trauma; and the sacralization of the veteran. The essay explores work by Phil Klay, Brian Turner, Sinan Antoon, and the film, Zero Dark Thirty, and offers extended discussions of Ben Fountain’s novel, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, and the TV drama The Wire.


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pp. 48-90
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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