Masculinities: Tracing the Trajectories of Gender Performance in War Poetry

Inam Ul Haq, Uzma Rashid


This paper critically examines the war songs and poems of men who fought in the post 9/11 Afghanistan war. The study locates the analysis within the socio-cultural influences that left an impact on the ‘manly’ soldiers, allowing a 'micro mapping' of masculinity to be revealed in these men’s writings. Using thematic analysis techniques, fifty war songs and poemsfrom the years 2007 and 2008 are analyzed through the lens of masculinity and its performance. The critical investigation of the war songs and poems found that the performative dimension of masculinities in war spread around the themes of youth warriors; weapons; arms and war machinery; state of politics and need for an Islamic government; the motif of red color; and glorification of death. The religion Islam, their homeland Afghanistan and its traditional culture constantly act as a fuel to evoke overpowering emotions for the soldiers and their passion for fighting. It is furthermore found that the locally constructed masculinities informed the context ofthe Afghanistan War. This has implications for the way we understand masculinities especially in war poetry. As the paper demonstrates, the multiple ways in which the notion of masculinity is manifested in war poems point to the need to break free from the stereotypical understandings of warriors from conservative religious backgrounds.



masculinity;Afghanistan war; poetry; post 9/11

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MSC - Masculinities and social change | ISSN: 2014-3605

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