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Figuring ViolenceAffective Investments in Perpetual War$
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Rebecca A. Adelman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780823281671

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823281671.001.0001

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Feeling for Dogs in the War on Terror

Feeling for Dogs in the War on Terror

(p.212) Chapter 6 Feeling for Dogs in the War on Terror
Figuring Violence

Rebecca A. Adelman

Fordham University Press

This chapter is animated by a single event: a March 2008 cell phone video depicting a U.S. Marine cooing over a live puppy, which surfaced on YouTube and promptly went viral. The video is simultaneously garish in its clarity and stultifying in its indecipherability; this chapter uses it to refract a broader inquiry about mediated suffering, sympathy, and American identity. By throwing two long-established sympathies (for dogs and military personnel) into crisis, the video illuminates the mechanics of figuring and its centrality to the public culture of contemporary American militarism. The chapter begins with a detailed description of the video, attending to its key visual, audio, and narrative elements, and also the role of anger and imagination in responses to it. To provide historical context for the outrage that the perpetrators provoked, the chapter then traces evolution of anti-cruelty discourse and practice in the West. Images of military personnel and dogs working together are the focus of the next section, which explores varied affective and ideological appeals of these partnerships. Returning to the video thereafter, the analysis lingers on the reaction it provoked, and the crucial role of the puppy in engineering it, despite the multiple layers of mediation through which audiences encountered its death.

Keywords:   American identity, animal cruelty, Canine PTSD, Encarnacion, Crismarvin, mediation, Military Working Dogs, Motari, David, sentiment, sympathy

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