A Soldier’s Experience for Society’s Peace: Combat Veterans and Post-Conflict Resolution in Southeast Europe
At its core, this research pursues two questions. First, how do former combatants embrace the identity of “veteran”, maintain veteran-oriented organizations, and connect internationally after the battlefields have gone silent? Second, how might mapping and understanding cross-border veteran relationships influence current or new approaches to peace and stability between former battlefield foes? Answering these questions brings into conversation certain aspects of social anthropology and political science. Social anthropology, with its theories relating to identity and cross-border networks as well as its ethnographic tools, can explore at a very intimate level how veterans move within and are seen by societies. Alternately, political science informs broadly developed strategies for post-conflict resolution and in so doing, the field’s theories and practices engage with veterans in stages ranging from disarmament to reintegration. Learning more of the veteran in and across societies requires holistic research that examines identities and (imagined) connections with resulting cross-border relationships after combat. Such a holistic approach necessitates an ethnographic reconnaissance that, besides a fundamental research component, also implies an action-research to explore and develop fresh approaches to post-conflict resolution and strategic peacebuilding.