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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.
1. Introduction 2. Initial Impact 3. Culture Shock 4. Mechanisms of de-individualization and equalization 5. Flux Incarnate 6. Ritual Practices 7. Commando Course 8. Momentum 9. Body re-creation through narrative and Material Culture 10. Ceremony
The Material Culture and Modern Conflict series adopts a genuinely interdisciplinary approach to re-appraise the material legacy of twentieth and twenty-first century conflict around the world. It offers a radical departure in the study of modern conflict, proving a truly interdisciplinary forum that draws upon archaeology, anthropology, military and cultural history, art history, cultural geography, and museum and heritage studies.