The rhetoric of heroism pervades politics. Political leaders invoke their own heroic credentials, soldiers are celebrated at sporting events, ordinary citizens become state symbols (or symbols of opposition), and high profile celebrities embody a glamorized, humanitarian heroism.
Using analytical tools drawn from international relations, gender studies, war studies, history, and comparative politics, this book examines the cultural and political phenomenon of heroism and its relationship to the process of creating, sustaining and challenging political communities. Arguing that heroism is socially constructed and relational, the contributors demonstrate that heroes and heroic narratives always serve particular interests in the ways that they create and uphold certain images of states and other political communities.
Studying the heroes that have been sanctioned by a community tells us important things about that community, including how it sees itself, its values and its pressing needs at a particular moment. Conversely, understanding those who are presented in opposition to heroes (victims, demonized opponents), or who become the heroes of resistance movements, can also tell us a great deal about the politics of a state or a regime. Heroes are at once the institutionalization of political power, and yet amorphous--one can go from being a hero to a villain in short order.
This book will appeal to scholars and students working on topics related to international relations, gender, security and war studies, comparative politics, state building, and political communities.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Heroism and the construction of political community 2. Medals and American heroic military masculinity after 9/11 3. Everyday heroics: motivating masculine protection in the private security industry 4. Rousseau, the general will, and heroism in drag: Waltz with Bashir as excessive Israeli heroism 5. Excursions into marginality: digitalised memories of militarised masculinity in Rhodesian understandings of self 6. Unsung heroism?: showbusiness and social action in Britain’s military wives choir(s) 7. Bringing hyper-empowered individuals back into global affairs: the contested terrain between celebrity, hero and anti-hero status 8. Havel and Mandela: leadership and legitimacy at home and abroad 9. One of the good ones: celebrity heroism and ending sexual violence in armed conflict Conclusions: why does global politics need heroes?
Veronica Kitchen is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Waterloo and the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada. She completed her PhD in political science at Brown University, where she was a Fulbright Scholar. Her research is a critical perspective on national security and counter-terrorism across the global/local divide. She is the author of The Globalization of NATO: Intervention, Security and Identity (Routledge, 2010) and has more recently published works on military heroism in popular romance fiction, and security at mega-events. Her current projects are about national security education and training (with Adam Molnar) and the use of simulation in teaching world politics. She is an executive member of the Canadian Network on Terrorism, Security, and Society (TSAS), and an active member of Women in International Security (Canada).
Jennifer G. Mathers is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth University, and has a D.Phil from Oxford University. She researches and teaches about gender and conflict, and Russia's security policy and domestic politics. Her publications about gender and conflict include "Women and State Militaries" in Women and Wars: Contested Histories, Uncertain Futures edited by Carol Cohn (Polity, 2012) and "Women, Society and the Military" in The Military and Society in Post-Soviet Russia which she co-edited with Steve Webber (Manchester University Press, 2005). She is the author of The Russian Nuclear Shield from Stalin to Yeltsin (2000) and her work on Russia has appeared in journals such as Europe-Asia Studies, The Journal of Strategic Studies, Civil Wars, and Contemporary Security Policy. She is currently working on a book examining the contemporary crisis in Ukraine from the perspective of feminist security studies.