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War and Fun: Reconceptualizing Warfare and Its Experience

Project description

Fun as a key component of war

By studying the role and implications of fun for soldiers and veterans, the EU-funded WARFUN project aims to reframe the way we understand how war unfolds, what it means to be at war, and what the long-term effects of war are on soldiers and veterans. War produces enormous suffering. By pointing to the nexus of war and fun, the project will unveil the plurality of experiences and affective grammars that are neglected by normative approaches. Research objectives include moving forward debates about the construction of the enemy, producing new knowledge on the normalisation of war, interconnecting notions of agency, complicity, and participation in the context of war, and contributing to debates about sexual harassment and violence in the military.


The overall goal of WARFUN is to offer a new understanding of war and soldiering through a study of the role and implications of fun for soldiers and veterans. An understanding of the complexity of soldiers’ participation in war requires an epistemic change in conventional approaches. This project builds on a central hypothesis: fun is a key component of war. This, in turn, paves the way for three sub-hypotheses on the capacity of fun to reshape social categories and social practice, alter the lived experience of war, and create new horizons of actions and forms of agency. From here, the project aims to: (a) theorize the role of fun in the construction of the “enemy”; (b) produce new knowledge on the normalization of war; (c) reconceptualize notions of agency, complicity, and participation in the context of war; and (d) produce new insights on sexual violence in war. These research objectives will be achieved through a comprehensive research design and a “progression model” that dynamically combines ethnography, archival research, digital ethnography, visual and participatory methods, military analysis, and scaling and translating approaches. The strategy for implementing the project, disseminating its results, and mobilizing networks will enable the development of a novel epistemological framework for theorizing the role of soldiers in war, which will advance the European research environment on the nexus between the anthropology of war and anthropology of emotions, the emotional turn in international relations, and critical military approaches. Precisely because of the intense suffering and hardships that humans endure in warfare, we urgently need a more nuanced understanding of war. WARFUN will provide an unprecedented opportunity to initiate a new intellectual project on the so far understudied, untheorized role of fun in war, extending and challenging existing assumptions while developing an innovative reconceptualization of warfare.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 999 340,00
5006 Bergen

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Norge Vestlandet Vestland
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 1 999 340,00

Beneficiaries (1)