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Vulnerability and the Politics of CareTransdisciplinary Dialogues$
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Victoria Browne, Jason Danely, and Doerthe Rosenow

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266830

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266830.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 03 July 2022

Vulnerable Civilians: Coalition Checkpoints and the Perception of Hostile Intent

Vulnerable Civilians: Coalition Checkpoints and the Perception of Hostile Intent

(p.108) 5 Vulnerable Civilians: Coalition Checkpoints and the Perception of Hostile Intent
Vulnerability and the Politics of Care

Thomas Gregory

British Academy

This chapter examines civilian casualties at coalition checkpoints in Afghanistan and Iraq, focusing on the decision to use lethal force against individuals considered to be hostile. Drawing on the testimony of American soldiers, this chapter argues that the decision to use lethal force can be seen as an affective judgement, with soldiers often resorting to ‘muscle memory’ as they sought to identify potential threats amidst the chaos and confusion of war. It will argue that these affective judgements do not occur within a cultural vacuum but are animated and informed by a set of background assumptions that mark certain populations as dangerous, threatening and hostile before they even arrive on the scene. To understand what made civilians so vulnerable to death and injury at coalition checkpoints, it will be necessary to inquire into the affective schemes of intelligibility that render certain lives disposable and certain bodies profoundly injurable in war.

Keywords:   civilian casualties, coalition checkpoints, Afghanistan, Iraq, violence, vulnerability

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