Co-constituting Bodyguarding Practice through Embodied Reflexivity

Methodological Reflections from the Field

in Conflict and Society
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  • 1 University of Bristol Paul.Higate@bristol.ac.uk
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ABSTRACT

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.

Contributor Notes

PAUL HIGATE is a reader in gender and security at the School for Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS) at the University of Bristol. He is the editor of Military Masculinities: Identity and the State (Praeger, 2003), coauthor with Marsha Henry of Insecure Spaces: Peacekeeping, Power and Performance in Haiti, Kosovo and Liberia (Zed Books, 2009), and author of numerous articles on military and militarized masculinities in the context of the UN, NATO, and, most recently, private military and security companies (PMSC). He is currently working on militarization in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Conflict and Society

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