Redefining the Past to Become the Present: Culture Policy and U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Training



This chapter examines the challenges of developing cultural skills, not from the military student’s or instructor’s perspective but rather from the perspective of the military organization required to implement the new cultural policies and programs. Using data from a 6 year ethnographic research project, I provide a focused case study of the Marine Corps’ efforts to institute a radical new culture policy into a military organization that has been structured and trained to fight conventional wars. Using the specific case of Marine Corps recruiting and recruit training, I examine how Marine Corps leadership at the Parris Island Recruit Depot and Recruiting Command has been able to incorporate two seemingly incompatible identities—fearless warrior and culturally savvy peacekeeper—into recruit training. By reshaping the external policy directives to fit within Marine Corps values and ideals, culture becomes “Marinized”—transformed into something that looks, smells and tastes Marine. Thus, the external policy directive becomes redefined so that the new policy is no longer a threat to Marine Corps ideals, but simply a modern version of the long and honorable past identity of the Corps.


Military culture Military identity Culture training US Marine Corps Policy implementation 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jackson School of International StudiesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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