Museumification’ of the Scottish Soldier and the Meaning-Making of Britain’s wars

Natasha Danilova* (Corresponding Author), Kandida Purnell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Drawing on interviews with curators of Scotland’s military museums and fieldwork ethnographies, this article explores how the Scottish Soldier is enacted through curation and how, through artefacts and stories, curators (re)produce the Scottish Soldier within and through their museums’ spaces. This article identifies three intertwining curatorial practices: (a) Production of a Scottish warrior ‘dreamscape’ through a dual technique of displaying symbolic representations of Scots-as-warriors while simultaneously reframing the controversies of Scotland’s contribution to British colonial wars and recent conflicts; (b) Construction of classed, raced, and gendered hierarchies through the curation of war-informing artefacts (uniforms, medals, and weaponry) - all of which sustain the dominance of warrior-like masculinity deployed in the service of the British state; and (c) Humanization of soldiers via the disruption of stereotypical warrior codes and the making visible of personalised and locally based war stories working towards decontextualisation and sentimentalisation of war. We argue that these curatorial practices enable the reproduction of a sacrificial Scottish Soldier and through this process they assist in the normalisation of Britain’s wars.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Military Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 3 Oct 2019

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soldier
museum
artifact
humanization
normalization
masculinity
ethnography
Military
interview

Keywords

  • curation
  • Scotland
  • warrior
  • military
  • museums

Cite this

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title = "Museumification’ of the Scottish Soldier and the Meaning-Making of Britain’s wars",
abstract = "Drawing on interviews with curators of Scotland’s military museums and fieldwork ethnographies, this article explores how the Scottish Soldier is enacted through curation and how, through artefacts and stories, curators (re)produce the Scottish Soldier within and through their museums’ spaces. This article identifies three intertwining curatorial practices: (a) Production of a Scottish warrior ‘dreamscape’ through a dual technique of displaying symbolic representations of Scots-as-warriors while simultaneously reframing the controversies of Scotland’s contribution to British colonial wars and recent conflicts; (b) Construction of classed, raced, and gendered hierarchies through the curation of war-informing artefacts (uniforms, medals, and weaponry) - all of which sustain the dominance of warrior-like masculinity deployed in the service of the British state; and (c) Humanization of soldiers via the disruption of stereotypical warrior codes and the making visible of personalised and locally based war stories working towards decontextualisation and sentimentalisation of war. We argue that these curatorial practices enable the reproduction of a sacrificial Scottish Soldier and through this process they assist in the normalisation of Britain’s wars.",
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author = "Natasha Danilova and Kandida Purnell",
note = "This article results from the research project, ‘War Commemoration, Military Culture and Identity Politics in Scotland’ funded by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities in Scotland, 2017-18 (RG13890/70560). As part of the whole project, we conducted 29 interviews in total, including with curators of military museums (13), government officials. artists and art managers, representatives of the Royal British Legion Scotland/Poppy Scotland, and members of other war-themed projects based in Scotland.",
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N2 - Drawing on interviews with curators of Scotland’s military museums and fieldwork ethnographies, this article explores how the Scottish Soldier is enacted through curation and how, through artefacts and stories, curators (re)produce the Scottish Soldier within and through their museums’ spaces. This article identifies three intertwining curatorial practices: (a) Production of a Scottish warrior ‘dreamscape’ through a dual technique of displaying symbolic representations of Scots-as-warriors while simultaneously reframing the controversies of Scotland’s contribution to British colonial wars and recent conflicts; (b) Construction of classed, raced, and gendered hierarchies through the curation of war-informing artefacts (uniforms, medals, and weaponry) - all of which sustain the dominance of warrior-like masculinity deployed in the service of the British state; and (c) Humanization of soldiers via the disruption of stereotypical warrior codes and the making visible of personalised and locally based war stories working towards decontextualisation and sentimentalisation of war. We argue that these curatorial practices enable the reproduction of a sacrificial Scottish Soldier and through this process they assist in the normalisation of Britain’s wars.

AB - Drawing on interviews with curators of Scotland’s military museums and fieldwork ethnographies, this article explores how the Scottish Soldier is enacted through curation and how, through artefacts and stories, curators (re)produce the Scottish Soldier within and through their museums’ spaces. This article identifies three intertwining curatorial practices: (a) Production of a Scottish warrior ‘dreamscape’ through a dual technique of displaying symbolic representations of Scots-as-warriors while simultaneously reframing the controversies of Scotland’s contribution to British colonial wars and recent conflicts; (b) Construction of classed, raced, and gendered hierarchies through the curation of war-informing artefacts (uniforms, medals, and weaponry) - all of which sustain the dominance of warrior-like masculinity deployed in the service of the British state; and (c) Humanization of soldiers via the disruption of stereotypical warrior codes and the making visible of personalised and locally based war stories working towards decontextualisation and sentimentalisation of war. We argue that these curatorial practices enable the reproduction of a sacrificial Scottish Soldier and through this process they assist in the normalisation of Britain’s wars.

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