From September 1990 to June 1991, the UK deployed 53,462 military personnel in the Gulf War. After the end of the conflict anecdotal reports of various disorders affecting troops who fought in the Gulf began to surface. This mysterious illness was given the name Gulf War SyndromeA" (GWS). This book is an investigation into this recently emergent illness, particularly relevant given ongoing UK deployments to Iraq, describing how the illness became a potent symbol for a plethora of issues, anxieties, and concerns. At present, the debate about GWS is polarized along two lines: there are those who think it is a unique, organic condition caused by Gulf War toxins and those who argue that it is probably a psychological condition that can be seen as part of a larger group of illnesses. Using the methods and perspective of anthropology, with its focus on nuances and subtleties, the author provides a new approach to understanding GWS, one that makes sense of the cultural circumstances, specific and general, which gave rise to the illness.
List of Abbreviations Acknowledgements Introduction PART I: GWS EXPLANATORY MODELS Chapter 1. Desert Rats, Not Lab RatsA" Introduction Biomedical Position on GWS A Veteran's View Discussion of GWS Causes Risk Conclusions Chapter 2. Chains of Causation, Chains of Knowledge Introduction Contested Knowledge Claims to Truth and Knowledge Levels of Causation Meta-narrative Conclusions PART II: BODIES AND BOUNDARIES Chapter 3. Leaky Bodies Introduction Body Substances Body Substances as Commodity Visibility Shifting Boundaries Extended Boundaries Leaky Bodies Internal Risks Conclusions Chapter 4. We are the EnemyA" Boundaries and Borders Theories of Causation and the Immune System Military Metaphors Conclusions PART III GWS AS UNIQUE ILLNESS Chapter 5. Veterans' Associations The Construction of GWS Narratives The Role of Women You Aren't Mad - It's ChemicalA" Conclusions Chapter 6. The Disappearing Man: Narratives of Lost Masculinity Semen The Soldier's Body: The Embodiment of Masculinity GWS Bodies: The Disappearance of Masculinity Old Women's DiseasesA" Women Conclusions Chapter 7. Impotent Warriors: The Context of Narratives of Lost Masculinity Military Masculinity Masculinity under Threat Gender Anxiety Leaving the Military The Military Context Conclusions: Embodying Male Lack Conclusion: GWS and World Trade Centre Syndrome GWS: An Illness of Our Time? Risk and Vulnerability The medicalisation of Life The Approach of Anthropology Ethical Issues and Dilemmas Conclusions Appendices Bibliography Index