In the wake of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, the conscription law in Lithuania has been reinstated for men, and partnerships with Western security structures reinforced. While young men are otherwise mobilizing to navigate socioeconomic uncertainty to improve their livelihoods under depressed conditions, the revitalization of mandatory military service increasingly polices individual experiences of wellbeing in gendered and nationalistic ways. Drawing from feminist analyses of securitization and from theories of gender performativity, this article examines how the Lithuanian State, together with the Lithuanian Armed Forces (LAF), mobilize masculinity and the construction of militarized identities in order to shape public support for its national security objectives. I argue that this conscription mandate compounds social divisiveness already present in Lithuanian society, and as a repressive structure, adversely shapes Lithuanian community wellbeing. In so doing, conscription works to obscure a sense of community and national belonging alike, not only for young men pressured to perform their masculinity and patriotism ahead of the draft, but also for women who, while permitted to engage volunteer service, are nevertheless evaluated against masculinist expectations. The article demonstrates how Lithuania’s national security narrative promotes a hegemonic masculinity both inside the military and in Lithuanian public life, in which community wellbeing is defined much less in terms of allowing material and psycho-social health to flourish than curbing the personalities and identities deemed intolerable to Lithuanian state security. As a student and woman conducting qualitative interviews and participant observation in a militarized setting, this article is based on ethnographic research that took place as part of my doctoral fieldwork in Lithuania from August 2016 to June 2017 and contributes to feminist scholarship in anthropology and security studies. By analyzing the policing of human livelihoods at the intersection of gender, ethnicity, patriotism, and social mobility, the production of militarized identities under a national security crisis in Lithuania offers a platform from which policy advocates working in international settings elsewhere can orient their work toward more inclusive and sustainable definitions of “security.”
"Mobilizing Masculinity: Conscription, Gender, and Community Wellbeing in Lithuania,"
Journal of International Women's Studies: Vol. 23:
1, Article 5.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol23/iss1/5