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Work in Progress – David Fitzgerald (History)
November 13 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
“Sexual violence, counterinsurgents and the legacies of Jean Larteguy’s The Centurions”
Jean Lartéguy’s 1960 novel, The Centurions, which follows a group of French paratroopers through the wars in Indochina and Algeria, is one that has achieved cult status, becoming required reading among American generals prosecuting their own counterinsurgency wars. While the novel is often described as an invaluable how-to guide for counterinsurgents, the use of sexual violence is at the core of the methods that Lartéguy’s protagonists embrace to defeat the FLN in Algeria; insurgent sympathisers are raped and Algerian women are humiliated as part of a deliberate strategy on the part of the paratroopers. That those within the US military who embraced the novel did not think this aspect of Lartéguy’s work to be worthy of attention speaks to deeper silences over the issue of sexual violence in war. This paper aims to explore both the depictions of sexual violence in The Centurions and the silences that surround those depictions.
David Fitzgerald is lecturer in International Politics in University College Cork. In 2013, he published his first monograph with Stanford University Press, Learning to Forget: US Army Counterinsurgency Doctrine and Practice from Vietnam to Iraq, which was a finalist for the Society of Military History’s Edward M. Coffman prize. In 2014, he published his second book, Obama, US Foreign Policy and the Dilemmas of Intervention, a co-authored text written with Professor David Ryan that is one of the first works to explore Obama’s decision-making in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. His current research focuses on consequences of the All-Volunteer Force for American society and the rise of a ‘warrior ethos’ within the post-Vietnam US military.