Grieving, Valuing and Viewing Differently: The Global War on Terror's American Toll

Kandida Purnell

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11 Citations (Scopus)
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In March 2003 (the eve of Iraq’s invasion) the George W. Bush Administration re-issued, extended, and enforced a Directive prohibiting the publication and broadcast of images and videos capturing the ritual repatriation of America’s war dead. This Directive (known as the Dover Ban) is exemplary of a wider set of more subtle processes and practices of American statecraft that work to move suffering and dead American soldiers out of the American public eye’s sight. This is due, I argue, to dominant (Government and Military) bodies knowing, valuing, and counting generic soldier material as but a “precious re-source” with which to fuel the GWoT. However, my investigation into the (in)visibility of suffering and dead American soldiers since 9/11 reveals that subordinate yet challenging American bodies could not be stopped from knowing, valuing, and counting American soldiers differently—in life, injury, and death. Indeed, regarding American soldiers as grievable persons, the challenging actions discussed in this article demonstrate how such grieving bodies were moved to demand and take the right to count and account for soldiers’ suffering and deaths in public and the very face of dominant bodies that “don’t do body counts.”
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-171
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Political Sociology
Issue number2
Early online date23 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

I would like to thank IPS’s editors and its anonymous reviewers, Jessica Auchter, Victoria Basham, Madeline Carr, and Natasha Danilova for their thoughtful comments on previous versions of this article. Sincere thanks are also due to Suzanne Opton, Ashley Gilbertson, and Julie Jacobson/AP for granting me permission to include their photographs.


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