Militarisation and Popular Culture in Canada

Supervisor's Name David Mutimer
Supervisor Email Address*
Supervisor's Department Politics
Project Title Militarisation and Popular Culture in Canada
Description of Research Project
Canadians seemingly like to think of themselves as belonging to a non-militarist society, particularly in relation to the United States. This is often cast in terms of Canada as peacekeeper. Yet Canada has a long military history, and recently has begun to display again the signs of a militarised society. The primary objective of this project is to contribute to the scholarly understanding of the militarisation of Canadian society, by focussing on the manner in which the military in general, and the Canadian military in particular, is understood within Canadian popular culture.

This project asks about the constitution of Canada as a militarised society within its popular culture. In the first instance, it will ask: How does Canadian popular culture represent the military in general and the Canadian military in particular in terms of the twin discourses of ‘peacekeeping’ and ‘warfighting’? Secondly, what practices are rendered possible and impossible through the representations of the military in Canadian popular culture? In answering this second question, it will further probe the differential effects along four closely related axes: How are masculinities and femininities constituted in and through these representations and practices? How are the effects located differently for men and women? How are youth and childhood implicated in these representations and practices? and How are race and indigeneity implicated in these representations and practices?

Undergraduate Student Responsibilities
The student's responsibilities will be to code examples of Canadian popular culture -- film, television, video-games, and music -- for their representations of the military in general, and the Canadian military in particular. The student will be provided with a coding key by the supervisor, together with an initial list of cultural artefacts. The student will then watch, listen to, and play those artefacts, and coding them (reporting time and other key identifying features agains the coding key).

The project is organised around three axes: the nature of war, the nature of the military, and the representations of gender. War is understood on a field constituted by ‘glory’, ‘tragedy’, and catastrophe, and so the coding will enable the student to identify the military violence in the artefacts on this plain. The military is considered on a continuum from ‘warfighter’ to ‘peacekeeper’, and so the student will be coding the soldiers, military and other security institutions, on that line. Finally, the project asks about militarised masculinities and femininities, and so the student will be coding the representations of both men and women in the various artefacts.

Qualifications Required
There are no specific qualifications needed for this position. An interest in military expressions of popular culture (war-films, military television, first-person shooter video-games, for example) would be useful. Some experience playing console games in general and first person-shooter games in particular would be very helpful.