Co-constituting Bodyguarding Practice through Embodied Reflexivity

Methodological Reflections from the Field

in Conflict and Society

This article focuses on the training context of private military and security (PMS) contractors. The training they undergo varies considerably, though the majority of training providers offer instruction in how to work in armed close protection (CP) as so-called bodyguards of dignitaries or on convoy protection. Set against this backdrop, the article reports on two periods of ethnographic field research of armed CP training where the author trained as a bodyguard in the first, and played the role of dignitary in the second. The discussion notes the very particular ways in which security is co-constituted between training instructor, author, and student. Here, a form of embodied reflexivity is used to show how security is translated between actors. Acknowledging that security is mediated through time, space, and the body can help to explain the experiences of host populations whose security has at particular moments been jeopardized by these armed actors.