Researching the Politics of Accountability in Studying the British Military

Research Paper Title

Researching from the spaces in between? The politics of accountability in studying the British military.


This paper is an exploration of the embodied experience of attempting to occupy the spaces in between collaboration and disengagement in conducting feminist-informed, critical research on the British military, and the ethical questions raised by doing so.

It draws for illustration on a qualitative study of domestic abuse in the British Armed Forces, which began independently of the institution before seeking support from and ethical clearance through the military at a later date.

The paper discusses the risk that research based on high levels of access to the military may be co-opted by the institution and its priorities; that is, that such research may become militarised.

Drawing on feminist work on the politics of accountability, it also highlights the importance of reflecting upon the ways in which research on military populations may be taken up by the institutions themselves.

In opposition, it explores the political and ethical quandaries raised by pursuing such research in detachment from the military institution, and the lack of nuance likely to characterise the findings of such a study.

The paper thus reflects upon some of the researcher’s embodied experience of negotiating a space between these two poles as well as on the political and ethical questions which this position, too, engenders.


Gray, H. (2016) Researching from the spaces in between? The politics of accountability in studying the British military. Critical Military Studies. 2(1-2), pp.70-83.


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