Maj Hedegaard Heiselberg
Department of Anthropology, Study Council
Øster Farimagsgade 5, Opgang E, 1353 København K
Working title: War within the Family – Challenges and Strategies among Danish Veteran Families
The empirical focus of my PhD project is Danish soldiers and their families, more specifically the partners and younger children of soldiers who have been deployed to international operations.
By following the lives of Danish families before, during and after the deployment of the soldier I seek to grasp the challenges that these families encounter when trying to establish an everyday family life in the absence of a partner and husband. However, I am also interested in exploring the various strategies that the individual family members develop in order to maintain social relationships across distances, and how they negotiate and maintain a sense of self when confronted with conflicting demands and aspirations within the family.
Analytically I am interested in exploring how expectations and norms about presence, intimacy and parenthood affect soldiers, and their partners and children when going through a military deployment. By approaching the experiences of deployment from a theoretical perspective of the family I firstly aim to demonstrate how soldiering and warfare affects a great number of people outside the military institution. Secondly, by understanding partners’ and children’s reactions and apprehensions as part of contemporary ideals and comprehensions about family life, I wish to point to the underlying dynamics of intimate, social relations that come to shape how deployment is experienced.
This project is a collaborative effort, including the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Anthropology and the Danish Veteran Center’s Research and Knowledge Department.