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12 March 2024

Research on violence in Peruvian military culture receives awards

The British Academy-funded research by Professor Jelke Boesten examined the role of sex and violence in military culture.

Book cover of 'Dogs and Mates' by Professor Jelke Boesten and Dr Lurgio Gavilán

An article and book by Professor Jelke Boesten and co-author Peruvian anthropologist Lurgio Gavilán have received awards from the Latin American Studies Association, the largest professional organisation for those studying Latin America. Jelke Boesten is Professor in Gender and Development in the Department of International Development.

The research ‘Intimacies of Violence’, funded by the British Academy, explored the how soldiers who engaged in and witnessed sexual violence in war made sense of such violence, and how they build intimate lives post-conflict. The researchers studied these themes through interviews with ex-combatants of the Peruvian military on their experiences during the internal armed conflict from 1980s to 2000s.

An article based on this research titled ‘Military Intimacies: Peruvian Veterans and Narratives about Sex and Violence’, published in the Latin American Research Review (LARR), was awarded the LARR University of Florida Best Article Award.

This has been a very complex research project on many different levels and I am so very pleased that this was recognised by the judges of these book and article awards. I hope it means the work will reach more people.

Professor Jelke Boesten, Department of International Development

The authors also published a book on the subject, Perros y Promos: Memoria, violencia y afecto en el Perú [Dogs and mates: Memory, violence and affect among Peruvian veterans in postconflict Peru] which received the LASA-Sección Perú Flora Tristan Award for best book published in 2023 and an honourable mention of the LASA Iberoamericano Book Award.

Based on analysis of in-depth interviews, the book argues that the army shaped the intimate lives of recruits through sexual socialisation, humiliation and violence. Soldiers experienced institutional racism and sexual abuse, and were exposed to ideas about military masculinity that helped condition them to sexually dominate the bodies of others. Learn more about the book.

The authors also have a forthcoming article from this research titled ‘Debris: Autoethnography, Feminist Epistemology, Ethics, and Sexual Violence’ which will be published in a special section on ‘Intimacies of Violence’ in the International Feminist Journal of Politics. It examines the collaborative nature of the research and its ethical implications.

The awards will be presented at the LASA Annual Conference in Bogotá in June 2024.

In this story

Jelke Boesten

Vice Dean (Research), interim, SSPP