Impotent Warriors: Perspectives on Gulf War Syndrome, Vulnerability and Masculinity

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Berghahn Books, 2009 - Medical - 266 pages

From September 1990 to June 1991, the UK deployed 53,462 military personnel in the Gulf War. After the end of the conflict anecdotal reports of various disorders affecting troops who fought in the Gulf began to surface. This mysterious illness was given the name “Gulf War Syndrome” (GWS). This book is an investigation into this recently emergent illness, particularly relevant given ongoing UK deployments to Iraq, describing how the illness became a potent symbol for a plethora of issues, anxieties, and concerns. At present, the debate about GWS is polarized along two lines: there are those who think it is a unique, organic condition caused by Gulf War toxins and those who argue that it is probably a psychological condition that can be seen as part of a larger group of illnesses. Using the methods and perspective of anthropology, with its focus on nuances and subtleties, the author provides a new approach to understanding GWS, one that makes sense of the cultural circumstances, specific and general, which gave rise to the illness.

 

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Contents

Desert Rats Not Lab Rats
17
Chains of Causation Ghains of Knowledge
43
Leaky Bodies
65
We are the Enemy
93
GWS AS UNIQUE ILLNESS
125
Narratives
154
The Context
183
Conclusion GWS and World Trade Centre Syndrome
208
Appendices
229
Bibliography
235
Index
253
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Susie Kilshaw is a social anthropologist at University College London where she pursues her research interests in new illnesses, health scares and anxieties, military health, and trans-cultural psychiatry. She previously worked for the NHS as a clinically applied medical anthropologist on issues surrounding ethnic minorities and mental health. Since 2004 she has been Assistant Editor of Anthropology and Medicine.

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