PhD candidate, The New School for Social Research
Expected Completion: May 2012
Curriculum Vitae (PDF)
the (Moral) Order: Military Service Members as Public Witnesses to War
Areas of Expertise
Cultural Sociology, Political Sociology, Social Theory, Transnational Social Movements
Through my dissertation, I examine the way in which a group of US military veterans have adapted a practice that I refer to as "public atrocity witnessing" as a means of criticizing the military and the war in Iraq. The practice of public atrocity witnessing emerged in the 20th century alongside the development of international laws regarding war and human rights, and it provides a forum for those who have suffered from violence that is attributed to systemic discrimination to present public testimony of their experiences, as, for example, occurred during the public hearings on human rights violations during the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The adoption of the practice by military veterans marks a significant shift in the underlying paradigm of public atrocity witnessing, where the victims of violence assume the moral position of witness and the perpetrators of that violence are silenced. In speaking as witnessing, the veterans are essentially positioned as "victimized perpetrators," forced to act violently and recklessly as the result of systemic discrimination within the military. I take a particular interest in the moral dimensions of the event, such as the ways in which the veterans use the experience of suffering and the notion of universal human rights in their critique of the military as a means of communicating their experiences as fundamentally human experiences. I assume a pragmatic perspective in developing a theoretical and methodological study of the empirical case in order to show of how the moral meanings that emerge through the veterans' acts of public atrocity witnessing are situationally dependent. I further compare the moral meanings that are constituted through the veterans' participation in public atrocity witnessing with that those that are constituted through one-on-one interviews with those veterans in order to illustrate the importance of context to moral meanings.
I have taught undergraduate courses at the New School for Social Research and the Ohio State University on culture and identity; comparative religions; media and politics; and writing composition. I have taught in a variety of class formats, from small writing intensive seminars to large lecture classes, and have both worked as the sole instructor and as part of a team of instructors.
Spring, Kimberly. 2012. Review of Judging War, Judging History: Behind Truth and Reconciliation, by Pierre Hazan, translated by Sarah Meyer de Stadelhofen. Memory Studies 5(3).
Spring, Kimberly. 2010. "Re-Presenting Victim and Perpetrator: The Role of Photographs in U.S. Service Members Testimony Against War." Memory and the Future: Transnational Politics, Ethics and Society. Eds. Yifat Gutman, Adam D. Brown and Amy Sodaro. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Spring, Kimberly and Nathan Dietz. 2009. "Community Service and Service-Learning in America's Public Schools." Growing to Greatness 2009 Eds. James Kielsmeier and Susan Root. St. Paul, MN: National Youth Leadership Council.
Lough, Benjamin and Kimberly Spring. 2007. National and International Volunteerism Among Volunteers in the United States, 2005. (CSD Working Paper 07-31). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.
Dissertation Introduction (PDF)
Dissertation Chapter 1 (PDF)
Dissertation Chapter 5 (PDF)
Re-Presenting Victim and Perpetrator: The Role of Photographs in US Service Members' Testimony Against War (PDF)
The Limits of Atrocity Witnessing in Constituting a Democratic Public (PDF)
American Identity Syllabus (PDF)
Social Inequality Syllabus (PDF)
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