Skip to main content Accessibility help

(Re)Producing American Soldiers in an Age of Empire

  • Isabelle V. Barker (a1)


While there has been little data gathered as to the presence of migrant workers in service occupations on U.S. military bases in Iraq, the data that do exist along with anecdotal evidence gathered by journalists suggest that the division of reproductive labor on military bases reflects an underexplored axis in the global organization of social reproductive labor. Due in part to the privatization of these services, the vast majority of vital support service labor is outsourced to and performed by men migrating from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Nepal, and Pakistan. This globalized division of reproductive labor is a site of symbolic politics that reinforces the gendered dimensions of the national identity of the American soldier. This division builds off of a long tradition of gendered dynamics framing military service. The displacement of reproductive labor, which remains coded as effeminate, onto poor migrant men serves to reinforce the aggressive masculine version of American soldiering in a way that smoothes over differences among soldiers along the lines of race, class, rural or urban origin, and even gender. Echoing earlier colonizer–colonized relations, this division of labor in turn supports the increasingly imperial posture that the United States has assumed in the world.



Hide All
Bakker, Isabella. 2007. “Social Reproduction and the Constitution of a Gendered Political EconomyNew Political Economy 12 (4): 541–56.
Briody, Dan. 2004. The Halliburton Agenda: The Politics of Oil and Money. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.
Brotz, Howard, and Everett, Wilson. 1946. “Characteristics of Military SocietyAmerican Journal of Sociology 51 (5): 371–75.
Brown, Wendy. 1988. Manhood and Politics: A Feminist Reading of Political Theory. Totowa NJ: Rowman & Littlefield.
Castles, Stephen, and Miller, Mark J.. [1993] 2003. The Age of Migration: International Population Movements in the Modern World. New York: Guilford.
Cerjan, Paul. 2005. Interview. Boston: Frontline WGBH. (Accessed June 21, 2007).
Ehrenreich, Barbara, and Arlie Russell, Hochschild, eds. 2002. Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy. New York: Henry Holt.
Enloe, Cynthia. 1988. Does Khaki Become You? The Militarization of Women's Lives. London: Pandora.
Enloe, Cynthia. 2004. The Curious Feminist: Searching for Women in a New Age of Empire. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Faludi, Susan. 1994. “The Naked CitadelNew Yorker, September 5, 6281.
Ferguson, Niall. 2004. Colossus: The Price of America's Empire. New York: Penguin.
GAO (Government Accountability Office). 2005. “Reporting Additional Servicemember Demographics Could Enhance Congressional Oversight” GAO-05-952.
Gates, Robert. 2007. “Media Availability with Secretary Gates Enroute to Chile” Washington DC: Department of Defense. = 4050 (Accessed December 11, 2007).
Gaviria, Marcella, and Martin, Smith. 2005. Private Warriors [video]. Boston: Frontline WGBH.
Goldstein, Joshua S. 2001. War and Gender: How Gender Shapes the War System and Vice-Versa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Herbert, Melissa S. 1998. Camouflage Isn't Only for Combat: Gender, Sexuality, and Women in the Military. New York: New York University Press.
Ikenberry, G. John. 2004. “Illusions of Empire: Defining the New American Order.Foreign Affairs 83 (2): 144–55.
Johnson, Chalmers. 2004. The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic. New York: Metropolitan Books.
Kagan, Robert, and William, Kristol. 2000. “Introduction: National Interest and Global Responsibility,” in Present Dangers: Crisis and Opportunity in American Foreign and Defense Policy, ed. Robert, Kagan and William, Kristol. San Francisco: Encounter Books.
Kaplan, Robert D. 2005. Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground. New York: Random House.
Kaufman-Osborn, Timothy. 2005. “Gender Trouble at Abu Ghraib?Politics and Gender 1 (December): 597619.
Keene, Jennifer D. 2001. Doughboys, the Great War, and the Remaking of America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Kennedy, Paul. 1988. The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000. London: Unwin Hyman.
Kerber, Linda K. 1980. Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina.
Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. 2003. Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Nandy, Ashis. [1983] 1988. The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self under Colonialism. New York: Oxford University Press.
Narayan, Uma. 1997. Dislocating Cultures: Identities, Traditions, and Third World Feminism. New York: Routledge.
Norton, Anne. 2004. Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire. New Haven: Yale University Press.
NPP (National Priorities Project). 2006. “Military Recruiting 2006.” (Accessed December 11, 2007).
NSS (“National Security Strategy of the United States”). 2002. Washington DC: The White House.
Pan, Esther. 2004. “Iraq-Military Outsourcing.” Council on Foreign Relations. May 20. (Accessed December 11, 2007).
Peterson, V. Spike. 2003. A Critical Rewriting of Global Political Economy. New York: Routledge.
Pieterse, Jan Nederveen. 2004. Globalization or Empire? New York: Routledge.
PNAC (Project for the New American Century). 1997. “Statement of Principles.” (Accessed April 14, 2009).
Said, Edward W. 1978. Orientalism. New York: Random House.
Scranton, Deborah. 2008. Bad Voodoo's War [video]. Boston: Frontline WGBH.
Seccombe, Ian. 1985. “International Labor Migration in the Middle East: A Review of Literature and Research, 1974–1984.International Migration Review 19 (2): 335–52.
Singer, Peter W. 2003. Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Snyder, R. Claire. 1999. Citizen-Soldiers and Manly Warriors: Military Service and Gender in the Civic Republican Tradition. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Snyder, R. Claire. 2003. “The Citizen-Soldier Tradition and Gender Integration of the U.S. MilitaryArmed Forces & Society 29 (2): 185204.
Stoler, Ann Laura. 2002. Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Tétreault, Mary Ann. 2006. “The Sexual Politics of Abu Ghraib: Hegemony, Spectacle, and the Global War on Terror.National Women's Studies Association Journal 18 (3): 3350.
Tickner, Ann J. 1996. “Identity in International Relations Theory.” In The Return of Culture and Identity in IR Theory, ed. Yosef, Lapid and Friedrich, Kratochwil. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.
Woods, Steven. 2004. “The Logistics Civil Augmentation Program: What Is the Status Today?” Carlisle, PA: U.S. Army War College.

(Re)Producing American Soldiers in an Age of Empire

  • Isabelle V. Barker (a1)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed