CFP: THE BANALIZATION OF WAR
Issue editors: Graham MacPhee and Angela Naimou
War both establishes and destabilizes the fundamental distinctions between civilian and combatant, compatriot and alien, and the lawful and the illegitimate. Yet arguably there is another set of distinctions whose fragility has been exposed by the new modes of military violence emerging post–9/11, namely that between emergency and routine, crisis and continuity, the spectacular and the prosaic, the extraordinary and the banal. Military violence, traditionally justifiable only as the temporary suspension of the norms of civility in a state of exception, seems to be becoming increasingly routine and everyday as evidenced by a broad range of tendencies: from securitized responses to political dissent and the deployment of military technologies in law enforcement, border surveillance, and corporate activity to the transformation of combat weapons into consumer goods and the proliferation of war-simulation computer games. This banalization of war is dramatically illustrated by the spatial and temporal condensations of drone warfare. For the drone operator based in a suburban command center, the locus of military agency lies deep within the domestic space and “wartime” is woven into the fabric of everyday temporality, while the globe is re-imagined as a battlefield.
Attention to the banalization of war in the post-9/11 period provides an opportunity to rethink conceptions of “wartime” as integral and discrete across wider historical and geographical parameters. In fact, the imbrication of war and everyday life has long been a structuring principle for the Atlantic slave trade and for colonial societies, while in the present it is experienced in very different ways—from service workers and translators whose labor facilitates war and occupation, to refugees, undocumented migrants, and those whose deaths would constitute “collateral damage.” This special issue of College Literature: A Journal of Critical Literary Studies seeks to explore both the long histories of “wartime” and its differential meanings in the present—as mediated through literature, culture, and society, and as experienced along axes of immediacy and distance, urgency and banality, bodily violence and the pleasures of spectacle. This special issue is especially interested in contributions that interrogate and complicate the historical and geographical parameters of war across national, international, and transnational contexts.
Relevant topics would include (but are not limited to):
• Literary and/or filmic representations of the militarization of everyday life
• Cultural histories of the banalization of “wartime”
• The militarization of visual experience in gaming, virtual environments, film, and television
• Military/non-military distinctions and the construction race
• Discursive strategies for the normalization of militarized violence
• Narratives of survival and resistance at the intersection of “wartime” and the everyday
• Gendering and re-gendering wartime/conflict zone and the domestic and the everyday
• Humanitarian law, human rights, and the porosity of wartime/war space
• The racialization of “violence” and “civility”
• The fate of civility, normativity, and exception under the routinization of violence