The life on the margins: the experiences of childhood within the military
Şen, Sertaç Kaya (2014) The life on the margins: the experiences of childhood within the military. [Thesis]
Based on an ethnographic research drawing on in-depth interviews and field work, this thesis brings into view the lives of children raised in military families, within the military complex, between the years of 1990s and 2010s. This study presents the rather ‘ordinary’ lives and experiences of children of military families, while unfolding the patterns of socialization common and specific to their lives. While doing so, it argues that the childhood of these children can also be conceptualized as being beset, both spatially and temporally, with three institutions, namely the family, the school and the military. After providing the reader with a historical context about the roots of ‘the military family’ as we know it today as well as the emergence of a new mode of governmentality in the military institution around the 1960s, this thesis forges connections between the universe of ideals upheld and disseminated by the military institution with regards to the members of military families and the lives of these members. Then it signals the dimensions wherein lies the significance and difficulties of the educational life for children and their parents. Underlining the role played by the military institution of Turkey in the governance and regulation of internal tensions, this thesis seeks an answer to the question as to how the military, in order to render its services more effective and legitimate, comes to grips with its bulky outliers, consisting of the children, spouses and parents of military officers, in other words, with multitudes whom it hails under the singular rubric of ‘the military dependents’. More specifically, it explores the ways in which the military tries to govern the children of military families in ways which can produce nationalized, gendered and militarized subjectivities catering to its institutional interests. Finally, this study concentrates on the ways in which the recent transformations of the military and its relationship to the political establishment and the society at large are being greeted and experienced by the children of military families. The narratives of the children in response to questions about the watershed political affairs which have precipitated major transformations in the public perception of the Turkish Armed Forces, shows that the military’s legitimacy and position in the relations of power depends much on its governing enterprises concerned with whom the institution hails as the military dependents.
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