“Backlash of the ‘betrayed’ squaddies”: the framing of veteran anti-investigation activism on British news websites

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1 Citation (Scopus)


This article examines how particular frames of military violence emerge, solidify, and fracture around popular media representations of veteran-led protest in response to the Northern Ireland legacy investigations. Curious about how popular ‘pro-militarist’ media navigate unsettling incidents of extreme and unlawful military violence that anti-activism draws attention to, this article uses a discourse analysis of the news coverage of the activism to interrogate how boundaries, distinct to those of formal legal and truth-seeking mechanisms, between ‘legitimate’ and ‘illegitimate’ violences, are drawn. Based on an analysis of 372 photographs and their attendant texts from 72 online news articles, I argue that the coverage is organized around an understanding of military violence as natural and necessary, (re)producing a largely untroubled fantasy of a homogenous national community betrayed by the investigation of its ‘squaddies’. In allowing only partial ruptures in an otherwise smooth narrative of military heroism and betrayal by the state, these stories of military transgression inhibit the disruptive potential of state-led investigations by obscuring the violence they supposedly seek to address.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Military Studies
Early online date21 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Nov 2023

Structured keywords

  • SPS Centre for Gender and Violence Research


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