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Title: A critical geopolitics of RAF recruitment
Authors: Rech, Matthew Falko
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This PhD thesis investigates the geopolitics of Royal Air Force (RAF) recruitment practices. Set at the interface between military and civilian life, RAF recruitment represents an important site from which particular imaginations of the military are consumed, enacted and performed. Drawing primarily on critical geopolitical theory and military geography, along with more-than-representational approaches to popular culture, the thesis uncovers how RAF recruitment necessitates an understanding of, and participation within, certain military-political narratives and imaginaries. It shows that these imaginaries – variously associated with the role, utility and legitimacy of state-sanctioned military violence – are powerful in their ability to affect popular understandings of the military, and to affect certain bodily and material engagements within the immediate spaces of recruitment. Furthermore, with a specific focus on the RAF, it demonstrates how certain ideas around the role and utility of military airpower are represented, enacted and performed. The thesis approaches the geopolitics of RAF recruitment in three ways. Firstly, focussing on the representative tenets of recruitment, the thesis examines both the historical and contemporary design of recruiting texts, images and documents. Using a socio-historical analysis of recruiting images, and drawing upon interviews with the military and corporate producers of recruitment, it demonstrates how recruitment emerges from particular structures, knowledges and experiences. Secondly, focussing on the visualities of military public-relations, the thesis demonstrates how large-scale public and private events, such as military airshows, provide spaces in which military-political narratives and imaginaries are enacted in and through regimes of seeing and sighting. Based on ethnographic research at military airshows, the thesis works to uncover the ways in which techniques of vision at spectacular events tie the potential recruit into particular imaginations of military legitimacy, efficacy, heritage and power. Thirdly, the thesis examines how the more mundane, quotidian sites of RAF recruitment are powerful in their ability to affect bodily predispositions and material engagements. Focussing on RAF recruiting games, military fitness regimes and the material, ephemeral nature of the airshow in particular, the thesis provides an insight into why the material and bodily cultures of militarism matter, and how they work persuasively to entrain particular imaginations of military life and culture. x The thesis raises important questions about the presence of military narratives and imaginaries in the public, civilian sphere, and in popular culture in particular. Set at the interface between military and civilian life, RAF recruitment demonstrates how popular geopolitical discourses of the military sometimes work not only to script imaginations of military violence, but to affect, mark and alter civilian lives and futures.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

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