This essay interrogates the representational violence that accompanied the material violence of the US-led war in Iraq (2003−2011) by examining how ideological constructions of “home,” war waging, and child-rearing function in the memoir and subsequent film American Sniper by Chris Kyle and the memoir by his wife, Taya Kyle. Read in public debates as uncontroversial, lauded from ideologues left and right, the role of the military spouse in the American Sniper oeuvre shores up a politics of redemption that venerates American exceptionalism while claiming a status of universalized and depoliticized womanhood. Highlighting the role of Taya Kyle as a military spouse and war widow illustrates how the trope of nationalist white womanhood becomes key to the operations not only of homefront biopolitical projects, but also of warfront necropolitical projects of empire.


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pp. 71-96
Launched on MUSE
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