Repurposing Liverpool's Waterfront as a LIminal 'Military Landscape': a Photographic Essay | McGarry | Visual Ethnography
Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription Access
Cover Image

Repurposing Liverpool's Waterfront as a LIminal 'Military Landscape': a Photographic Essay

Ross McGarry


This photo essay documents via analytic autoethnographic observations the experience of being a ‘show-goer’ at a public civil-military event in the UK. Hosted by the city of Liverpool during 2017, Armed Forces Day witnessed transient civic-spaces across the city’s waterfront be transformed into what is defined here as a ‘liminal military landscape’. Following established research within human geography studying British military airshows, this photo essay makes use of visual methods and fieldnotes as forms of data collection and analysis. Used in concert to provide analytic autoethnographic observations, these methods help articulate Armed Forces Day as a nuanced experience that served more purposes than generating military recruitment. Instead, it is suggested that this civil-military event repurposed the civic space of Liverpool’s waterfront to promote ‘liberal militarism’ as a cultural product, through which the military promoted its own imagined heteronormative institutional identity to the public via various recruitment activities, objects and props.


Critical military studies; analytic autoethnography; military landscapes; Armed Forces Day

Full Text:




June 24. Our City is proud to host Armed Forces day when we say a huge thank you to service men and women. No Politics needed on this important day. Twitter, Accessed online, January 16-2019:


Analytic autoethnography. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 354: 373-395.


For Ethnography. London: Sage.


Liverpool — 24–25 June 2017: NATIONAL ARMED FORCES DAY, Accessed online, January 16-2019:


Armed Forces Day Toolkit, Accessed online, January 16-2019:

BASHAM, Victoria

Liberal militarism as insecurity, desire and ambivalence: Gender, race and the everyday geopolitics of war. Security Dialogue, 491-2: 32-43.

BASHAM, Victoria

Raising an Army: the geopolitics of militarizing the lives of working-class boys in an age of austerity. International Political Sociology, 10: 258-274.

BASHAM, Victoria

War, Identity and the Liberal State: Everyday Experiences of the Geopolitical in the Armed Forces. Oxon: Routledge.


Liverpool Presents: Armed Forces Day 2017, Accessed online, January 16-2019:


The Politics of War Commemoration in the UK and Russia. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

HENG, Terence

forthcoming The visual essay. In Mannay, Dawn. and Pauwels, Luc. eds.. The SAGE Handbook of Visual Methods 2nd edition. London: Sage.

HENG, Terence

Visual Methods in the Field: Photography for the Social Sciences. Oxon: Routledge.

HENG, Terence

An appropriation of ashes: transient aesthetic markers and spiritual place-making as performances of alternative ethnic identities. The Sociological Review, 63: 57-78.

HENG, Terence

Hungry ghosts in urban spaces: a visual study of aesthetic markers and material anchoring. Visual Communication, 132: 147-162.


This is Belonging. Accessed online, January 16-2019:

PAPADEMAS, Diana - The International Visual Sociology Association IVSA.

IVSA Code of Research Ethics and Guidelines. Visual Studies, 243: 250-257.

RECH, Matthew F

A critical geopolitics of observant practice at British military Airshows. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 154: 536-548.

RECH, Matthew - WILLIAMS, Alison J

Researching the military at Airshows: a dialogue about ethnography and autoethnography. The Routledge Companion to Military Research Methods. Alison J. Williams, Rachel Woodward, K. Neil Jenkings and Matthew Rech. (eds) Abingdon: Routledge.

RECH, Matthew - BOS, Daniel - JENKINGS, K. Neil - WILLIAMS, Alison - WOODWARD, Rachel

Geography, military geography, and critical military studies. Critical Military Studies, 11: 47-60.

ROSE, Gillian

Visual Methodologies: an Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials. London: Sage.

WOODWARD, Rachel - WINTER, Trish

Sexing the Soldier: the Politics of Gender and the Contemporary British Military. Oxon: Routledge.


Military Geographies. Blackwell Publishing Ltd: Oxford.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN Print 2499-9288
ISSN Online 2281-1605
Publisher Edizioni Museo Pasqualino
Patronage University of Basilicata, Italy
Web Salvo Leo

Periodico registrato presso il Tribunale di Palermo con numero di registrazione 1/2023