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      Becoming war: Towards a martial empiricism

      1 , 2 , 3

      Security Dialogue

      SAGE Publications

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          Abstract

          Under the banner of martial empiricism, we advance a distinctive set of theoretical and methodological commitments for the study of war. Previous efforts to wrestle with this most recalcitrant of phenomena have sought to ground research upon primary definitions or foundational ontologies of war. By contrast, we propose to embrace war’s incessant becoming, making its creativity, mutability and polyvalence central to our enquiry. Leaving behind the interminable quest for its essence, we embrace war as mystery. We draw on a tradition of radical empiricism to devise a conceptual and contextual mode of enquiry that can follow the processes and operations of war wherever they lead us. Moving beyond the instrumental appropriations of strategic thought and the normative strictures typical of critical approaches, martial empiricism calls for an unbounded investigation into the emergent and generative character of war. Framing the accompanying special issue, we outline three domains around which to orient future research: mobilization, design and encounter. Martial empiricism is no idle exercise in philosophical speculation. It holds the promise of a research agenda apposite to the task of fully contending with the momentous possibilities and dangers of war in our time.

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          Most cited references 52

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          The sources of social power

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            Pluralism

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              Secure the volume: Vertical geopolitics and the depth of power

               Stuart Elden (2013)
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Security Dialogue
                Security Dialogue
                SAGE Publications
                0967-0106
                1460-3640
                April 2020
                February 05 2020
                April 2020
                : 51
                : 2-3
                : 99-118
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Birkbeck, University of London, UK
                [2 ]University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, USA
                [3 ]University of Ottawa, Canada
                Article
                10.1177/0967010619895660
                © 2020

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