Militarism, Empire, and Citizenship in Post-9/11 America
Thursday, September 28, 2023
12:00pm - 1:30pm E.T.
Register to join us *in-person* in Midtown Manhattan:
CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies
25 West 43rd Street, 18th floor
New York, NY 10036 (map)
Or register to get the *livestream* link!
Join Sofya Aptekar and Nadia Abu El-Haj as they discuss their new books and the role of the U.S. soldier in the operations of U.S. empire, the stories told about soldiers, and the nature of militarism in the post-9/11 era.
Hosted by the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies.
ABOUT GREEN CARD SOLDIER:
An in-depth and troubling look at a little-known group of immigrants—noncitizen soldiers who enlist in the US military.
While the popular image of the US military is one of citizen soldiers protecting their country, the reality is that nearly 5 percent of all first-time military recruits are noncitizens. Their reasons for enlisting are myriad, but many are motivated by the hope of gaining citizenship in return for their service. In Green Card Soldier, Sofya Aptekar talks to more than seventy noncitizen soldiers from twenty-three countries, including some who were displaced by conflict after the US military entered their homeland. She identifies a disturbing pattern: the US military's intervention in foreign countries drives migration, which in turn supplies the military with a cheap and desperate labor pool—thereby perpetuating the cycle.
As Aptekar discovers, serving in the US military is no guarantee against deportation, and yet the promise of citizenship and the threat of deportation are the carrot and stick used to discipline noncitizen soldiers. Viewed at various times as security threats and members of a model minority, immigrant soldiers sometimes face intense discrimination from their native-born colleagues and superiors. Their stories—stitched through with colonial legacies, white supremacy, exploitation, and patriarchy—show how the tensions between deservingness and suspicion shape their enlistment, service, and identities. Giving voice to this little-heard group of immigrants, Green Card Soldier shines a cold light on the complex workings of US empire, globalized militarism, and citizenship.
ABOUT COMBAT TRAUMA:
Americans have long been asked to support the troops and care for veterans' psychological wounds. Who, though, does this injunction serve?
As acclaimed scholar Nadia Abu El-Haj argues here, in the American public’s imagination, the traumatized soldier stands in for destructive wars abroad, with decisive ramifications in the post-9/11 era. Across the political spectrum the language of soldier trauma is used to discuss American warfare, producing a narrative in which traumatized soldiers are the only acknowledged casualties of war, while those killed by American firepower are largely sidelined and forgotten.
In this wide-ranging and fascinating study of the meshing of medicine, science, and politics, Abu El-Haj explores the concept of post-traumatic stress disorder and the history of its medical diagnosis. While antiwar Vietnam War veterans sought to address their psychological pain even as they maintained full awareness of their guilt and responsibility for perpetrating atrocities on the killing fields of Vietnam, by the 1980s, a peculiar convergence of feminist activism against sexual violence and Reagan’s right-wing “war on crime” transformed the idea of PTSD into a condition of victimhood. In so doing, the meaning of Vietnam veterans’ trauma would also shift, moving away from a political space of reckoning with guilt and complicity to one that cast them as blameless victims of a hostile public upon their return home. This is how, in the post-9/11 era of the Wars on Terror, the injunction to "support our troops," came to both sustain US militarism and also shields American civilians from the reality of wars fought ostensibly in their name.
In this compelling and crucial account, Nadia Abu El-Haj challenges us to think anew about the devastations of the post-9/11 era.
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