“A Boy and His Dog…”: The War in Afghanistan and Storytelling

in Representing Wars from 1860 to the Present
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AbstractAt the time when hostility to British engagement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was growing, the repatriation of British soldiers killed in action became the object of public ceremonies and extensive coverage by the tabloids in a characteristic displacement of interest from information about the war to representation and celebration of “ordinary” heroes. This chapter focuses on the exceptionally popular case of Lance Corporal Liam Tasker and his working dog killed in Afghanistan in 2011. Using Foucault’s concept of “regimes of truth” and Christian Salmon’s Storytelling (2007), the study analyses the visual and textual techniques which transform a report of war casualties both into a story about an ordinary man and his dog, and a narrative of national identity confirming the fundamental nature of the British soldier. Repetition, expansion, embellishment and audience participation generate a narrative spiral strengthening shared beliefs and assumptions.

Representing Wars from 1860 to the Present

Fields of Action, Fields of Vision

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