Cosmopolitanism and individual ethical reflection–the embodied experiences of Swedish veterans

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This article aims to enable a conversation between cosmopolitan thought, with focus on individual ethical experiences and reflections, and research on embodied military experiences. While we derive our ethical reasoning from cosmopolitanism, we concede that it lacks sensitivity to individuals’ other-regarding reflections and acts. Moreover, it does not sufficiently problematize the ways in which cosmopolitan deliberations are mediated in consideration of other desires and interests–what we define as mediated cosmopolitanism. To illustrate and substantiate our theoretical claims we draw on a selection of interviews and other material. We provide a two-step analysis, first by identifying the key themes in Sweden’s cosmopolitan military self-narrative, enabling us to determine the extent to which it intersects with individual veterans’ ethical reflections. Second, we conduct a discursive analysis of veterans’ embodied ethical reflections, that have emerged from their participation in international operations. We identify a cosmopolitan sense of obligation amongst Swedish veterans across our material, with such individuals articulating a wish to do good beyond borders. Notions of cosmopolitan responsibility, moreover, arise from veterans’ actual human encounters with civilians on the ground and through support for small-scale aid projects. However, veterans’ ethical reflections are rarely purely cosmopolitan, rather mediated through their wish to serve the nation, support fellow soldiers as a key part of the operation, acquiring new professional skills and the desire to seek new adventures. We argue that the concept of mediated cosmopolitanism captures such mixed ethical sentiments and embodied experiences. We conclude by summarizing our key arguments.


Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • Göteborgs universitet

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Sociologi (exklusive socialt arbete, socialpsykologi och socialantropologi)


TidskriftCritical Military Studies
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 2020 aug 4
Peer review utfördJa