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Welfare Warriors: Towards a Genealogy of the Soldier Citizen in Canada

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Over the past few decades, new forms of citizenship have emerged in the context of a globalizing and urbanizing world. The government of citizens and economies, it is argued, is increasingly trans‐, supra‐, or sub‐national in scale, and characterized by the eclipse of Keynesian welfarism and rights‐based citizenship. Scholars have documented the emergence of targeted, risk‐based, and workfarist governmentalities and political economies at various spatial scales, and have even described emergent forms of citizenship as “post‐national”. And yet, in many countries we are concurrently confronted with massive symbolic and fiscal reinvestment in national militaries, particularly in the welfare of personnel. Given this, and the longstanding relationships between the nation‐state and military service, it is curious that the soldier has hardly figured in recent discussions about citizenship. This paper provides a genealogy of the soldier‐citizen in Canada, from iconic national worker‐citizen in the post‐World War II period to its recent anxious positioning at the intersection of “domestic”, entrepreneurial, workfarist citizenship, and the widespread re‐emergence of militarism and national security. It demonstrates that the military citizen has at key times been a template for innovations in social forms of national government, and argues that the soldier has been a crucial figure in their re‐engineering in recent years. Situated amidst transformations in work and worker‐citizenship, and at the intersections of political struggles in both the domestic and international spheres, the soldier provides a unique lens on questions of the national and the social. Through an engagement with the labour of social citizenship, and the war work that initiated many of its governing techniques, the military citizen emerges as a critical figure in the contemporary neoliberal nation.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada;, Email:

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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