Life, embodiment, and (post-)war stories: studying narrative in critical military studies

December, 2018

This article explores narrative as a tool for research into the military and the human experience of war.


This paper argues for an expanded conceptualization of narrative as a tool for research in critical military studies (CMS). Narrative provides a means of studying the human experience of war as simultaneously ‘embodied’ and ‘storied’, but only if the underpinning conceptual framework can address both aspects. The paper introduces a conceptual synthesis of war, narrative, and the body that aims to bridge existing work on narrative within CMS with nascent research on war and embodiment. Drawing on the socio-narratology of Arthur Frank, three core ideas are offered as the basis for an embodied study of narrative in CMS. Together, these ideas demonstrate the value of narrative inquiry for providing detailed, contextualized, and nuanced analyses of war and post-war experiences. Stories are performative: they do things. War and post-war stories have personal and political consequences that affect how individuals and societies deal with war’s legacy and approach future conflicts. What kind of story we tell about war therefore matters deeply. Studying narrative in the form of embodied war stories expands CMS’s resources for critically engaging with matters of war, violence, and military experience.

Full Reference

Caddick, N., 2018. Life, embodiment, and (post-)war stories: studying narrative in critical military studies. Critical Military Studies. DOI:

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