Out of the Darkness: The ongoing crisis of Canadian military identity

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The Canadian military underwent a crisis in the 1990s, now called the decade of darkness. There were three spurs to this crisis: the Somalia crisis in 1993; the disbandment of the Canadian Airborne Regiment in 1995, and; a government faced with a large budget deficit and no great commitment to military spending. This project will examine the response of the Canadian Forces (CF) and the Canadian state to the challenges posed by the 'decade of darkness' in order to understand the nature of militarism and the state in Canada. The military is one of the defining features of the modern state, and so the answer to the question of the military’s identity is also a window into the nature of the state as a whole. The project will be guided by four central questions: The first examines the 'transformation' of the CF, both its operational restructuring (particularly through the deployment to a combat mission in Afghanistan); and the restructuring of its Professional Military Education(specifically through the creation of the Canadian Defence Academy in 2002), and asks what sort of military, with what sort of leadership, is being produced through transformation? The second question seeks to tie the transformed military to the broader Canadian state and asks: what does the transformed CF and its leadership structure tell us about the nature of the state? The project will then broaden focus yet again to ask how the nature of the state and its military connects to Canadian identity more generally: how is the military understood in Canadian society, expressed through its popular culture, and how does the transformed CF fit with Canadian's self-understandings of its military and other identity? Finally, the project will bring the answers to the first three questions to examine the nature of the CF and Canada as expressed in the mission in Afghanistan.

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Principal Investigator

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(e.g type 1000 for 1,000)