Decoding a Royal Marine Commando : The Militarized Body as Artefact book cover
1st Edition

Decoding a Royal Marine Commando
The Militarized Body as Artefact

ISBN 9780367585334
Published June 30, 2020 by Routledge
148 Pages

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Book Description

With a heritage dating back to the mid-seventeenth century, the Royal Marines have accrued a rich history of rituals, artefacts and material culture that is consciously deployed in order to define and shape the institution both historically and going forward into an uncertain future. Drawing upon this heritage, Mark Burchell offers a unique method of understanding how the Royal Marines draw upon this material culture in order to help transform ordinary labour power to political agency comprising acts of controlled and sustained violence. He demonstrates how a barrage of objects and items - including uniforms, weapons, landscapes, architecture, personal kit, drills, rituals, and iconography - are deployed in order successfully to integrate the recruits into the Royal Marines' culture. It is argued that this material culture is a vital tool with which to imprint the military's own image on new recruits as they embark on a process of de-individualisation. Having been granted unprecedented access to the Commando Training Centre at Lympstone as an anthropologist, Burchell observed an intake of recruits throughout their demanding and exhausting year-long training programme. The resulting book presents to the academic community for the first time, a theorised in-depth account of a relatively unexplored social community and how its material culture creates and reifies new military identities. This path-breaking interdisciplinary analysis provides fresh understanding of the multiple processes of military enculturation through a meticulous revision of the relationships that exist between disciplinary and punishment practices; violence and masculinity; narratives and personhood; and will explore how these issues are understood by recruits through their practical application of body to physical labour, and by the cues of their surrounding material culture.

Table of Contents

Contents;Preface;Chapter 1;Introduction;Background;Abstract Anthropology as Fieldwork Technique;Overview;Chapter 2;Culture Shock and Initial Adaptations to the Regime of Discipline;Arriving at the Commando Training Centre;The First Training Weekend;Early Group Formation;Arriving at the Field and Exiting Jack;Chapter 3;Equalization;When Drill Sergeant Says ‘YOU’ He Means ‘YOU All’;Identical efforts: ‘The Room Swap’;The Dreaded Kit and Weapon Inspection;Afters: The Post-Inspection Body Sacrament;Chapter 4;The Phase of Identification;Extracts from January: We All Get Punished for Each Other’s Mistakes;Extracts from February: A Cold Commitment to Pain;Extracts from March: Fortification of the Group We’re Becoming;A Surprise Enemy Attack;Extracts from April: Specialist Instruction;Extracts from May and June: We’ll Get by With a Little Help from Our Training Team *;9th, 10th& 11th July: Confirmation Weekend;Chapter 5;Exchanging Exhausted Bodies for Excellence: The Testing Stage;Day Two: The first Pass-out Test;Timothy;Jon;Tris;Recruit Narratives and the Re-Contextualisation of a Bottom Field Experience *;Hard Training is Made Easy with Taff Around;Days Three, Four and Five: Living in the Open Environment;Day Six: Three Tests in One Day;Day Seven: More Practice amid the Tests;Day Eight: Ceremony and Taboo;Day Nine: The Nine-Mile Speed March;Day Ten: The Tarzan Assault Course and Preparation for the 30-Miler;Chapter 6;Ceremonial Acceptance;The Closing Feet Ritual;Final Reflections before the 30-Miler;The 30-Mile Run;The ‘Final’ Finish Line;The Green Beret Award Ceremony;Day Twelve: Discussions about Self-Empowering Narratives;Day Thirteen: His Final Chance;Day Fourteen: Emerging from Liminality;Chapter 7;Conclusions: Civilian to Commando from an Anthropological Perspective;Violence and Masculinity: A Socially Acceptable Identity;Disciplinary and Punishment Rituals: Types and Practices;Discipline: Types and Practices of the Royal Marines;Surveillance: Brickwork and Imagination;De-Individualization and Personhood: A Sound Investment;Narratives: Re-Creating a Body Experience;Re-creation of pain narratives;Self-empowerment narratives;Future masculine-action narratives;Re-Individualization: Acceptance into the Royal Marines; Glossary;Bibliography

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Mark A Burchell is a former Royal Marine Commando who received his PhD at the University of Bristol.  He is appointed as professional anthropologist at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (MOD), Porton Down, UK.