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Geir Johannes Barlaup

MHS School of Mission and Theology


Preliminary project title

Armed Forces Between Otherness and Respect: A Study of Norwegian Soldiers' Understanding of the Significance of Religion for the Professional Ethics Related to Operations in Afghanistan.


Description of the project

My objective is to have a look at how soldiers understand the significance of religion in their own life, in their encounter with the Afghans and what this means for military professional ethics. Methods are semi structured individual interviews, a questionnaire and group interviews. A main finding is that, with some very good exceptions, many seem to lack or have a poorly developed language to talk about religion.


What I am doing right now

At the moment I am working on proofreading, levelling and a preliminary coding of the interviews. The King (i.e. the Armed Forces) has granted me some mony for transcription help. Still, military 'tribal' language and acronyms are hard to understand for the civil lady who is helping me. Hence, a careful proofreading is required.


How has RVS helped your project?

Oh, in so many ways! I think the most important point is that RVS has provided an interdisciplinary meeting place that gives the opportunity to concentrate on research problems in a fellowship of researchers for some days. This is extremely valuable when working alone as I do, far from the oasis of an academic institution. Thus, the summer courses have given most. This is neither because of the heat nor the place at Lesvos, but travelling away means that nobody can escape into privacy after the sessions.


What would you like to have more of in RVS?

In general, I think RVS chooses topics of high relevance as it is. Nevertheless, in line with the answer above, I would like more courses according to the summer course model - not necessarily at Lesvos as I guess that is too expensive for many. Furthermore, as a student with limited contact with other academics, more focus on practical questions like how to allocate time, finding a good balance between the writing and education, the use of computer programs, how to assess own work etc would help.

And finally, thanks to RVS!