Veterans Speak: Identity, Community, Resistance Disruption

145 Straub Hall
1451 Onyx St.
UO campus

Veterans Speak: Identity, Community, Resistance Disruption

Please join us on January 24 (5:30-8:30 pm) in 145 Straub Hall on the University of Oregon Campus for the screening of A Soldier’s Home by U.S. Army veteran and UO doctoral candidate (SOJC) Andrew McLaughlin and Grounds for Resistance by Lisa Gilman, professor of Folklore and English at the University of Oregon and a CSWS faculty affiliate. The documentaries in conversation with one another shed light on the impact of war for U.S.veterans who fought in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both directors will be present for Q & A.

A Soldier’s Home (McLaughlin, 2013)

From May of 2005 to May of 2006, Andrew McLaughlin was deployed to Iraq as an infantryman with the US Army. After seven years of service, two improvised explosive devices, a handful of bullets and a Combat Infantry Badge, he returned home to become a college student.

Told as a retrospective of the filmmaker’s life, A Soldier’s Home is an hour-long auto-ethnographic look into the filmmaker’s personal transition from combat to the homefront. The narrative is assembled through a series of chapters that juxtapose personal memories with popular histories of combat, utilizing comparisons of Hollywood footage, found footage, and a collection from the filmmaker’s personal archive. During the course of the film, the filmmaker also examines personal artifacts including medals, documents, and memories in search of meaning. The narrative serves as a critical alternative to representations of combat veterans from dominant mass media perspectives, and the name is borrowed from a short story by Hemingway that similarly addresses themes of trauma and identity. Acknowledging the film’s ranking amongst other films that represent veterans and military culture, the filmmaker playfully acknowledges the fine-line between exploitation and representation in filmmaking. In a series of reflexive moments, the filmmaker questions the popularity of homogenized representations of veterans, often created by professional filmmakers instead of rank-and-file veterans like himself.

Bio: Andrew McLaughlin is a third-year doctoral student in Media Studies at the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon. His research interests include the practice and theory of documentary filmmaking, alternative media, critical cultural studies, and political economy of communication and media. As a US Army combat veteran, his research often focuses on the representation, commodification, and political economy of military culture in media.

Grounds for Resistance: Stories of War, Sacrifice, and Good Coffee. Distributed by Films Media Group. (Gilman, 2011)

Inspired by the Vietnam-era G.I. coffee house movement, young American veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars opened Coffee Strong near Joint Lewis-McChord Base in November 2008. This non-profit organization and café, where soldiers and veterans drink coffee and discuss politics, provided G.I. rights counseling and directed people suffering from combat stress, military sexual trauma, and medical problems to appropriate resources. At the center of this fifty-minute documentary are the young veterans who ran the non-profit. Their involvement in the military compel them to devote themselves to helping soldiers, veterans, and troops’ families. It explores each one’s stories from their decisions to join the military, memories of deployment, relationships with one another, and how their activist efforts to make a more peaceful and just world help them cope with their own experiences of war.

Bio: Lisa Gilman is Professor of Folklore and English at the University of Oregon. Her research explores the intersections of performance, gender, and politics. Her monographs include My Music, My War: The Listening Habits of U.S. Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan (Wesleyan University Press, 2016), The Dance of Politics: Performance, Gender, and Democratization in Malawi (Temple University Press, 2009), and the co-edited volume (with Michael Dylan Foster) UNESCO on the Ground: Local Perspectives on Intangible Cultural Heritage (Indiana University Press, 2015). Grounds for Resistance is her first documentary film.