Photo of Dr Sarah Bulmer

Dr Sarah Bulmer

Research Interests

Critical Military Studies

Critical Military Studies (CMS) is an emergent interdisciplinary field of study that analyses military practices and institutions within their political, social, economic, and cultural contexts. CMS seeks to move, conceptually and empirically, beyond a-theoretical research and traditional concerns of how to make militaries more efficient or provide greater democratic oversight of state violence, and instead questions the very idea of military organisation and armed force. It asks us to consider what social processes enable and legitimise the use of force and seeks to offer new insights into state-sanctioned violence by exploring the wider implications of militarism and militarisation. I am Editor of the 'Encounters' section in a new journal, Critical Military Studies, which launched in 2015. Encounters provides a dedicated space for critical dialogue between scholarly, activist and practitioner communities, and encourages alternative forms of engagement with military power.  

I am working on two main projects currently:


Sexuality and the British Armed Forces

My current book project is based on my doctoral thesis (Securing the Gender Order: Sexuality in the British Military, University of Exeter, 2012). The book explores the regulation of gender and sexuality in the contemporary British armed forces and engages with feminist IR scholarship which investigates the connections between gender, military identity and war.

In the book I evaluate British policy towards homosexuality and analyse how the official integration of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender personnel has been managed since 2000. I use a range of qualitative methods in this research, including in-depth interviews with military personnel. Alongside the substantive empirical content, the project seeks to develop the insights of queer theory for feminist interventions, consider the implications of 'queering' research methodologies and advance a case for a feminist praxis which actively exploits the instabilities of gender.


War, Injury and Experience

My current research explores the legacies of contemporary conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, with a focus on injured and disabled veterans. In this research I am investigating popular representations of wounded military bodies as heroes and symbols of national pride and engaging with recent moves within IR to understand war as an embodied experience, drawing on personal accounts of injury by veterans. I have been working with David Jackson, co-founder Veteran to Veteran (a community interest company), and a video of a recent conference presentation is available here:

Drawing on literature within sociology, history and disability studies this research explores how the bodies of military personnel are sculpted, damaged and rehabilitated and asks what this means for our understandings of military masculinity, the politics of war-making and contemporary civil-military relations in Britain.




Queering the Military: Sexuality in the Armed Forces- research monograph in preparation for Routledge Interventions series.

With David Jackson, “You do not live in my skin”: Embodiment, voice and the veteran ‘ Special Issue on Embodying Militarism, Critical Military Studies (forthcoming 2016) 

With Victoria Basham, Alexandra Hyde and Harriet Gray, ‘Encounters with the Military: towards a feminist ethics of critique?’ for ‘Conversations’ section in International Feminist journal of Politics(forthcoming 2015)

[Review of] Masculinities, Militarisation and the End Conscription Campaign by Daniel Conway, International Feminist journal of Politics, 16(2),  (2014) 283-285.

'Patriarchal Confusion? Making sense of gay and lesbian military identity', International Feminist journal of Politics, Volume 15 (2), (2013) 137-156. Winner of the 2012 Enloe Award

With Timothy Cooper, 'Refuse and the 'Risk Society': The Political Ecology of Risk in Inter-war Britain', Social History of Medicine, Volume 26 (2), (2013), 246-266.