Proposed Panel for ASA 2014: "Reconsidering 'R and R':Dialectics of Violence and Pleasure in Militarism"

full name / name of organization: 
American Studies Organization - War and Peace Studies Caucus

While most would agree that war is inhumane, traumatic—"hell" indeed— specific sites of fun and experiences of pleasure have also been produced alongside and even through mass destruction and violence. In fact, locations of pleasure and violence often coexist alongside one another and sometimes occupy the same space, simultaneously or consecutively. For example, sites of military occupation and past warfare (such as Hawai'i, the Philippines, and Guam) now serve as destinations for tourism and, moreover, rest and recuperation ("R and R")for military personnel. U.S. military bases abroad (in South Korea, Okinawa and elsewhere) are often surrounded by bars and brothels that have been implicitly sanctioned by the military and civilian officials. The enduring popularity of war films and war-themed video games (like the Call of Duty series, Medal of Honor, and Full Spectrum Warrior) also attests to the militarization of entertainment in our popular culture. This panel, sponsored by the War and Peace Studies Caucus, seeks to examine the production and operation of dialectics of violence and pleasure in war and militarism. As we investigate the varied sites of pleasure and violence, we will be mindful of the uneven production and distribution of "fun": how have war and militarism produced and defined fun/pleasure for some while perpetuating violence for others? What kinds of happiness are possible in such environments? What are the specific contours of pleasure in wartime? Who gets to experience it ? Under what conditions?? To the benefit or cost of whom? What types of conduct are abetted by the idea of 'fun'? How, ultimately, is play embedded in the structures that perpetuate militarism?

Please send 250-word abstracts to Ji-Young Um ( and Rebecca A. Adelman ( by January 21, 2014. We will notify panelists on January 23, 2014.