23 August 2012

About us and our research

Subproject I: From untested to initiated (Thomas Randrup Pedersen)
Subproject II: From warforce to workforce (Birgitte Refslund Sørensen
Subproject III: From war to culture (Mads Daugbjerg)

Subproject I: From untested to initiated

PhD Fellow Thomas Randrup Pedersen directs attention to Danish soldiers, in flesh and blood, before, during and after deployment (to Afghanistan). He explores how Danish troops through military service and war-zone deployment are (trans)formed in part as professional practitioners and in part as human beings, and how the soldiers associate this, in talkings and in doings, with different notions of ‘strength’ and ‘enrichment’. Rather than delving one-sided into the human costs of deployment to international missions, the aim is to scrutinize how twentieth-first century warfare seemingly involves a price to pay which is intimately connected with a prize to win, and how this accordingly affects Danish soldiers and their civil-military entanglements, imagined as experienced, be that at home or at the front.

The project fits in with Thomas’ previous work as Research Assistant for Birgitte Refslund Sørensen during her former research on the (lack of) recognition of Denmark’s deployed military personnel. In addition, the project draws upon Thomas’ longstanding interest in peace and conflict studies, incl. insights from his master’s thesis in which the use of force, within the context of the conflict in Northern Ireland, is analysed not only as a destructive phenomenon, but also as a constructive one.

Subproject II: From warforce to workforce

Associate Professor Birgitte Refslund Sørensen explores the experiences of Danish soldiers, who after one or more international missions leave the military to pursue a civilian career. The military and civilian worlds are often perceived as diametrical opposites, so how do soldiers who have embodied military-related discourse, behaviour, codes, values and viewpoints through intensive training and deployment(s) to a warzone, adjust to a civilian work life? And how do civilian workplaces perceive and accommodate military experiences, skills and competencies, when recruiting a former professional soldier? This will be ethnographically explored in selected job centres, institutions of learning and workplaces.

This research builds on Birgitte’s recent research into Danish professional soldiers’ and their families’ experiences of (lacking) social recognition, and a concerted effort by the military elite, politicians and interest organisations to try to assist the soldiers in their homecoming. It also taps into her work on nationalism, armed conflict, post-conflict social reconstruction and the impact of prolonged conflict on children’s education in Sri Lanka.

Subproject III: From war to culture

Associate Professor Mads Daugbjerg will focus on the image of the soldier in Danish memory and culture. He investigates different public arenas in which the recent military engagements leave their imprints, such as museums and heritage settings, anniversaries and tourist events. The ambition is to “follow the soldier” as much as possible in his/hers various contemporary guises and manifestations, and to trace and analyse the cultural assumptions, debates and tensions surrounding these translations of the distant wars into meaningful cultural practices and manifestations.

The subproject follows on Mads’ earlier research on the uses and mobilisations of the past in the present, and on the relations between experience-centred tourism, cultural economy and national memory. His PhD concerned the practices of Danish and German visitors at the historic battlefield of Dybbøl in Southern Denmark, scrutinising the making and transformation of national heritage. More recently, he has explored (and participated in) amateur-based reenactments of the battles of the American Civil War, analysing the ideological as well as the material engagements underpinning these stagings.