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Contemporary American Trauma Narratives$
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Alan Gibbs

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748641147

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748641147.001.0001

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Gulf War Memoirs and Perpetrator Trauma

Gulf War Memoirs and Perpetrator Trauma

(p.161) Chapter 4 Gulf War Memoirs and Perpetrator Trauma
Contemporary American Trauma Narratives

Alan Gibbs

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter 4 examines the consequences of American military action in the Middle East, focusing on a selection of American narratives from the Gulf Wars of 1991 and 2003 onwards. The texts consulted here include those written by male and female service personnel and officers, and embedded reporters (including Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead, Joel Turnipseed’s Baghdad Express and Evan Wright’s Generation Kill). Issues of race, gender, and class are examined, as they demonstrate starkly different reactions to similarly stressful incidents. The chapter focuses in particular on the service personnel’s peculiar status as potential perpetrators of traumatic acts, yet generally stripped of more than rudimentary agency. This status, alongside their general experience of insidious rather than punctual trauma, sometimes produces unusual manifestations and representations of trauma.

Keywords:   Swofford, Turnipseed, Wright, perpetrator trauma, insidious trauma, Gulf War, Iraq, agency

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