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The Patriotism of Protest:The Reconfiguration of the Citizen-Soldier Ideal During the Vietnam War Era

Mottle, Lauren Julia (2018) The Patriotism of Protest:The Reconfiguration of the Citizen-Soldier Ideal During the Vietnam War Era. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

Throughout the Sixties numerous ordinary Americans ‘challenged the integrity and virtue of basic institutions and values that had taken on the cover of American tradition.' While historians have extensively explored the anti-war activism of civilians, minimal attention has been given to the activism of anti-war soldiers. This thesis examines the activism of draft resisters, active-duty soldiers and veterans. Using the lens of the citizen-soldier ideal, it explores this activism’s impact on enduring assumptions around patriotism, citizenship, race and manhood. A long-standing tenet of American national identity, this ideal asserts that the highest patriotic duty of a male citizen was his unhesitating service in the armed forces in times of national crisis. I argue that anti-war soldiering severed the relationship between soldiering and the perceived duties of republican citizenship in American national identity. Where previous generations saw patriotic citizenship and a willingness to serve as inextricably intertwined, the activism of anti-war soldiers fostered an understanding of republican citizenship that existed independent of military service. However, American belonging has been consistently defined by whiteness, thus conceptions of citizenship are inextricably intertwined with notions of gender and race. Accordingly, this study explores the centrality of racial identity to reconsiderations of the citizen-soldier ideal. Broadly, activists argued that the primary duty of citizenship became the defence of the democratic ideals rather than an unquestioned commitment to Administrations’ policies. Where white activists argued their primary duty lay in defending the Constitution, activists of colour argued that they had a duty to defend their racial communities. Applying the analytical lenses of race and gender sheds new light on the far-reaching impact of this activism and inserts it into broader narratives of the Sixties and American national identity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: anti-war protest, anti-war activism, Vietnam War, patriotism, citizen-soldier, race, Black Power, GI movement, whiteness, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, draft resistance, coffeehouses, American national identity
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of History (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Lauren Mottle
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2019 13:31
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2019 13:31
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23357

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