Invisible Veterans

Defeated Militants and Enduring Revolutionary Social Values in Dhufar, Oman

in Conflict and Society
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  • 1 University of Sussex alice.wilson@sussex.ac.uk
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Abstract

Those who have participated in organized political violence often develop distinctive identities as veteran combatants. But what possibilities exist to produce a veteran identity for “invisible” veterans denied public recognition or mention, such as politically repressed defeated insurgents? Everyday socializing during or after political violence can help restore social worlds threatened or destroyed by violence; an examination of “invisible” veteran defeated revolutionaries in Dhufar, Oman, shows how everyday socializing can help reproduce a distinctive veteran identity despite political repression. Ethnographic fieldwork with veteran militants from the defeated revolutionary liberation movement for Dhufar reveals that while veterans (who are a diverse group) no longer publicly reproduce their political and economic revolutionary ideals, some male veterans—through everyday, same-sex socializing—reproduce revolutionary ideals of social, especially tribal and ethnic, egalitarianism. These practices mark a distinctive veteran identity and indicate an “afterlife” of lasting social legacies of defeated revolution.

Contributor Notes

ALICE WILSON is Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Sussex. Her research interests span political and economic anthropology, with a focus on the legacies of projects for radical social change such as revolutions and liberation movements. She has conducted fieldwork in northwest Africa and in Oman. Her book, Sovereignty in Exile: A Saharan Liberation Movement Governs (2016), charts experiments in sovereignty and revolutionary state power in the exiled liberation movement for Western Sahara. Sovereignty in Exile won Honorable Mention in the 2017 book award of the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association. Email: alice.wilson@sussex.ac.uk

Conflict and Society

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