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Department of Anthropology Speaker Series presents: Ken MacLeish

Dr. Paul & Natalie Strasser Legacy Room - 220 Eggers Hall

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"Soldier Suicide, Intimate Governmentality, and the Shape of Military Life"

Servicemember suicide has for years now been a pressing concern of US military leaders and healthcare providers, politicians and the civilian public, and not least, soldiers themselves. The urgent and sometimes overbearing policy and cultural responses to suicide have themselves become a significant part of soldiers’ everyday life. Conventional sociological and mental-health-based conceptions of suicide tend to treat it as a dysfunction that originates either deeply within individuals or completely determines them from the outside. In Army life these dynamics take the form of psycho-epidemiological efforts to parse the causes of suicide and aggressive, anticipatory monitoring of “risky” behavior believed to be associated with it. But they also metastasize into surprising everyday manifestations: mutual obligations, compelled attachments, intimate aversions, speculative sympathies, fantasies of escape, and labors of survival. This talk draws on ethnographic research in US Army communities to explore everyday ways of talking about, imagining, regulating, and living with military suicide, and it argues for the value of understanding these logics of suicide as simultaneously institutional, interpersonal and subjective

Dr. Ken MacLeish is an Assistant Professor of Medicine, Health, and Society and Anthropology at Vanderbilt University

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