Interdisciplinary workshop on the (new) relations between military, state, society and space
The current intensification of geopolitical tensions, including Russia’s war in Ukraine, the civil war in Sudan and armed conflicts in 55 other countries (Sipri 2023), raises numerous questions about the political roles of militaries and their place within states, societies and economies. While military infrastructures, discourses and imaginations are an everyday presence, even in peacetime (Woodward 2003), the extent to which they are in the public eye justified, normalized or politically debated and contested varies significantly within and between states. It is also strongly related to historical context, as for instance the German case shows.
The Russian war in Ukraine is but one of numerous violent conflicts around the world that requires attention. However, we see the growth in debates that it has prompted on the place of the military in societies that have not experienced armed conflict since the end of the Second World War as a potential turning point in their relations between military, state and citizens. This requires critical scholarly reflection. Current public debates here raise questions about the extent, aims and impact of militarisation, about its legitimation and about the contestation of militarisation as „the process of bringing military values into civilian life” (Jackson 2019:258). As Woodward (2014:41) has argued, militarisation is a “multi‐faceted set of social, cultural, economic and political processes by which military approaches to social problems and issues gain both elite and popular acceptance.” It is simultaneously a discursive process of intensifying the allocation of labour and resources to the military.
Changing military recruitment procedures, their connections to a range of social inequalities, public debates about tasks and missions of the military, bout investments in military hardware, infrastructure, personnel and administration, and about the scale and reach of military‐industrial complexes indicate ongoing problematisations and renegotiations of the place of the military in society, its role within states and its relations to civilians (cf. Mannitz 2012). Critical scholarship may not be able to resolve the more fundamental societal‐political dilemmas and conflicts that underpin these developments. However, it can provide insights and resources for further public reflection and debate, especially as morally and ethically complex issues of possible violence, harm and death are of concern. A geographical perspective allows making statements about the territorial embeddedness of military practices as well as analysing the effects of militarization across different scales. This workshop aims to provide a space for such critical exchanges between interdisciplinary researchers who work in and on different politico‐geographic contexts.