Contested Ground: alcohol, attachment, and the hut habit at war

Haslam, Sara (2015). Contested Ground: alcohol, attachment, and the hut habit at war. University College, Dublin. Humanities Institute.



This talk is about the different ways and places in which attachment was expressed, managed, contained and denied at war. My focus is on alcohol, and on associated ideas about the articulation and performance of masculine identity, as demonstrated by church organizations and the military, as well as a range of men who fought. The concept of the ‘whole man’, fundamental to the wartime caregiving of the YMCA, for example, was, I will argue, a construct that conflicted with the military model. The experience of attachment, as explored in the literary record, exposes the extent of that conflict, as does the wartime debate over the use and effects of alcohol – a debate that had a politically and socially fraught history in the UK in the years before 1914. If, as one historian argues, ‘the British soldier was remarkably well looked after’, how was that looking after managed and manifested when alcohol was the matter at hand? This talk examines this and other questions in its exploration of the contested ground of alcohol at war.

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