Military Landscape: space, place and identity issues for spouses of British Army personnel

Project Leader(s):Ann Murphy
Staff: Supervisor: Dr. Rachel Woodward
Sponsors: ESRC

Military landscapes hold meanings about military space, place and performative traditions that are deeply embedded within our societies and national identities. The premise of my doctoral research will be to destabilise the heavily gendered sexual politics of military landscapes in order to understand how they shapes gender identity; specifically amongst military spouses. This is a question which conventional military studies have not advanced. The aim of my thesis is to mark out new terrain regarding the gendered nature of military landscape in general and the male ‘gaze’ in particular, engaging with new ideas about identity formation, space and place, to take forward geographical debate in this area. 

The past decade has seen the rise of theoretical studies by feminist geographers who are interested in the fluidity and multiplicity of gender identities, especially in the fracturing/spatiality of identity formation. My PhD research will utilise this body of knowledge to critically examine identity issues for army wives within the context of how military landscape affects perceptions of their personal identity formation and how this filters down and affects all aspects of personal time/life balance. Furthermore it will unpack how new constructions of femininity cause tensions within a militarised environment that has failed to acknowledge the breakdown of ‘traditional’ gender roles, vis-à-vis its preference to sit in nostalgic deeply conservative frameworks of hegemonic masculinity. This project will adopt a pragmatic approach, be reflexive throughout and use layered qualitative methods of data collection informed by feminist epistemology, to generate knowledge that contributes to existing landscape discourses within social studies.