War and Fun: Reconceptualizing Warfare and Its Experience
The overall goal of WARFUN is to offer a new understanding of war and soldiering through a study of the role and implications of fun for soldiers and veterans. An understanding of the complexity of soldiers’ participation in war requires an epistemic change in conventional approaches. This project builds on a central hypothesis: fun is a key component of war. This, in turn, paves the way for three sub-hypotheses on the capacity of fun to reshape social categories and social practice, alter the lived experience of war, and create new horizons of actions and forms of agency. From here, the project aims to: (a) theorize the role of fun in the construction of the “enemy”; (b) produce new knowledge on the normalization of war; (c) reconceptualize notions of agency, complicity, and participation in the context of war; and (d) produce new insights on sexual violence in war. These research objectives will be achieved through a comprehensive research design and a “progression model” that dynamically combines ethnography, archival research, digital ethnography, visual and participatory methods, military analysis, and scaling and translating approaches. The strategy for implementing the project, disseminating its results, and mobilizing networks will enable the development of a novel epistemological framework for theorizing the role of soldiers in war, which will advance the European research environment on the nexus between the anthropology of war and anthropology of emotions, the emotional turn in international relations, and critical military approaches. Precisely because of the intense suffering and hardships that humans endure in warfare, we urgently need a more nuanced understanding of war. WARFUN will provide an unprecedented opportunity to initiate a new intellectual project on the so far understudied, untheorized role of fun in war, extending and challenging existing assumptions while developing an innovative reconceptualization of warfare.