Sleeping soldiers: On sleep and war

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In this article, I explore sleep specifically as a weapon of war, as a logistic of war, and as a metaphor for conscience in war. In proposing the capacity to sleep as a measure of the effects of strategies of war, and to recalibrate understandings of intimacy and vulnerability in war, I highlight the distinct effects of war on all its denizens. I make no claim for sameness among their experiences – far from it. And yet, at the same time, I wish to draw attention to what this exploratory essay also conveys, namely, the possibility for a sort of what Judith Butler terms ‘sensate democracy’ in the experience of sleeplessness, exposing a counterintuitive commonality among those deemed friends and enemies. Such a focus brings to the fore that which Simone Weil so powerfully articulated – that violence and force destroy those who wield them and those who are subject to them, potentially reducing each to something less than human, rendering them ‘brothers in the same misery’. Far from facilitating or structuring a relativistic moral equivalence, this potential solidarity provides a form and a measure that, in turn, make way for an analysis of distinct relations of power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-136
Number of pages18
JournalSecurity Dialogue
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • Conflict
  • critical theory
  • gender
  • human security
  • violence
  • war


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