War without Citizens

Memorialization, War, and Democracy in the United States

in Democratic Theory
Stephen J. Rosow State University of New York at Oswego stephen.rosow@oswego.edu

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Contestation over war memorialization can help democratic theory respond to the current attenuation of citizenship in war in liberal democratic states, especially the United States. As war involves more advanced technologies and fewer soldiers, the relation of citizenship to war changes. In this context war memorialization plays a particular role in refiguring the relation. Current practices of remembering and memorializing war in contemporary neoliberal states respond to a dilemma: the state needs to justify and garner support for continual wars while distancing citizenship from participation. The result is a consumer culture of memorialization that seeks to effect a unity of the political community while it fights wars with few citizens and devalues the public. Neoliberal wars fought with few soldiers and an economic logic reveals the vulnerability to otherness that leads to more active and critical democratic citizenship.

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