Dead Babies, Bowel Disturbances, and Other Combat Humor in Afghanistan and Iraq
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The United States has deployed American soldiers to Afghanistan and Iraq for over a decade, often sending its soldiers for a second or third tour. The soldiers’ combat experience has changed dramatically since previous wars and soldiers are returning with more psychological burdens. Various attempts have been made to decrease the psychological burdens on these American soldiers. However, I believe a missing component of these attempts is a thorough understanding of the military as its own separate culture. This comprehension of the military as a separate culture is imperative in order to aid the soldiers through the adjustment of civilian life. Similar to other subcultures, the military has its own language, belief system, behavioral characteristics, and material conditions. I would like to focus on language because communication is a crucial component of any culture and it is a constant reminder of the difference between civilian and solider. In order to focus on language and the other components of the American military culture, I will be gathering narratives and descriptions from soldiers, through academic research, and interviews. I account specifically for military humor to lessen the horror of armed conflict, to establish community among soldiers, and to build up and break down hierarchy. This humor serves to cement a subculture while distinguishing its members from mainstream American culture. My thesis introduces civilians to military culture through this humor.
Madsen, Marissa Torian (2013). Dead Babies, Bowel Disturbances, and Other Combat Humor in Afghanistan and Iraq. Honors and Undergraduate Research. Available electronically from