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Johanna Söderström

This chapter depicts how the process of coming home from war is understood and experienced among the various former combatants interviewed for this book. The idea of coming home, and the process of coming home, are in part metaphorical, as not everyone moves physically when they return home. This process also needs to be unpacked and problematized as the division between war and peace in individual lives is not clear-cut. This chapter is a starting point for such a discussion. Coming home can also be marked by a particular moment which is key

in Living politics after war

This book is about understanding how former combatants come home after war, and how their political lives are refracted by the war and the experience of coming home itself. In particular, it captures the political mobilization among former combatants as they come home from three very different types of war: civil war (Colombia), war of independence (Namibia), and interstate war (United States involvement in the Vietnam War). The book provides a much-needed long-term perspective on peace. It also demonstrates the artificial division between literatures across the Global North and Global South, and demonstrates how these literatures speak to each other just as the three cases speak to each other. The novel use of interviews to document life histories and the inside perspective they provide also give a unique insight into the former combatants’ own perspectives on the process of coming home and their sense of political voice. This book is not about peacebuilding in the sense of interventions. Rather, it examines peace as a process through studying the lived experiences of individuals, displaying the dynamics of political mobilization after disarmament across time in the lives of fifty former combatants. The book demonstrates how the process of coming home shapes their political commitment and identity, and how the legacy of war is a powerful reminder in the lives of these former combatants long after the end of the war.

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Johanna Söderström

Wars have a multitude of personal consequences, but they also have societal consequences as a result of the political lives that develop in their wake. Just as the war and coming home shape the politics of these former combatants in multiple ways, these former combatants shape larger processes of maintaining peace, politics, statebuilding, welfare systems, and democracy. This book sought to depict an insider's understanding of the experience of living politics after war, and how this process is understood by individual former combatants across

in Living politics after war
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Johanna Söderström

has ended. This book is not about peacebuilding in the sense of interventions. Rather, it examines peace as a process through studying the lived experiences of individuals. By focusing on the long-term political mobilization of former combatants after disarmament, the book displays how the dynamics between political mobilization , identity , and networks vary across time in the lives of fifty former combatants as they move toward peace and coming home. “Coming home” is not a clear-cut experience, and is one that needs to be unpacked. The book

in Living politics after war
Johanna Söderström

This chapter turns to the political activity the former combatants have engaged in after war. Their political mobilization has waxed and waned over the years, and their veteran identity as well as veteran networks play a role in this dynamic. As such, the chapter tries to display how former combatants connect their experience of war, and of coming home, to their subsequent political mobilization. The chapter shows how experiences covered in the earlier chapters – such as coming home, questions of identity, relationship with the state, and

in Living politics after war
Heike Wieters

career at CARE in the humanitarian non-profit sector. 107 These experienced professionals were not always easy to come by, however. Thus, when it became clear that the first PCVs would be coming home soon, the private agencies immediately saw an opportunity. An internal Peace Corps survey had shown that many homecoming volunteers were hoping to find either a government post in international affairs or a job at a private or

in The NGO CARE and food aid From America, 1945–80
Johanna Söderström

the war itself and also coming home influence this process. The veteran identity is salient for almost everyone, and, as they tell us, the importance of this identity has increased over time. For most, the war experience is inescapable, not least because war is something which society positions itself in relation to, as well as against. Aspects of this veteran identity imply political engagement: for instance, “duty”, “responsibility”, and “service to others” are named as common traits by participants from all three cases, as obligation during war translates to an

in Living politics after war
Johanna Söderström

was exciting, which meant coming home in contrast was very boring. He expressed the feeling that war is about being lucky. In the end, he felt that signing up with the navy had been the right thing for him: I'm glad I did it, it was the right thing for me to do at the time. Was exactly what I needed to do. I knew … if I'd gone to college … I wasn't mature enough … I would have dropped out the first, it would have been party time … I'd have been gone, you know. And then there would have been the

in Living politics after war
Johanna Söderström

This chapter scrutinizes the role played by fellow former combatants in the lives of the research participants after coming home from war. The experiences, as well as the political meaning, of coming home and being a veteran (in the sense of a political identity) are all mediated through the social networks which surround them. This chapter demonstrates what meaning is attached to the network of other veterans and what role these networks play and have played in their lives as understood by the former combatants themselves. These networks

in Living politics after war
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Robin Wilson

( 1994 : 31) wryly put it, ‘the old chickens of Versailles’ were ‘once again coming home to roost’. Yet, as Hurst Hannum ( 1992 : 27) reflected, the meaning and content of the right to ‘self-determination’ remained ‘as vague and imprecise as when they were enunciated’. Academic debate on nationalism was meantime renewed in the 1980s, with key ‘modernising’ texts from Ernest Gellner

in The Northern Ireland experience of conflict and agreement