Society for Cultural Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Nicaraguan and Honduran soldiers occupying Caribbean coastal villages in the Afro-Indigenous region of Moskitia habitually entangle themselves sexually or romantically with one or more local women during their three-month rotations. In addition to the economic, affective, and logistical conditions driving women and soldiers to initiate these affairs, the military character of their intimate relations remains an undertheorized aspect of soldier sexuality. This paper shows that what is properly martial in these affairs is not the straightforward weaponization or capitalization of intimacy, but something that pertains to the extralegality and extrasociality of the armed forces: their condition as intimately linked to the state, to capital, and to the social, but as impossible to fully appropriate by any of them. The paper shows that the extensive practice of intimacy with soldiers in the Moskitia does not lead to the military’s local “incorporation”, nor to a peaceful synthesis of soldier-resident cohabitation, but to a predatory relation of domination in which the military remains an awkward appendage to Miskitu villages, restricted to geographic and quotidian peripheries. This “intimacy without incorporation” is reflected in the kind of local knowledge soldiers acquire and produce, as well as in the kinds of value they extract from economies deemed legal or illegal. The paper fleshes out some of the implications of this analysis of “martial love” for the literatures on the War on Drugs, indigeneity and multiculturalism, and punitive prohibitionism.