Combat Brotherhood: Disabled Afghan War Veterans, Traumatic Masculinity and the Mafia State


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation studies how disabled and traumatized veterans of Afghanistan acclimated in the late 1980s to the traumatic isolation that became the norm after the USSR's collapse, and were therefore particularly suited to life in the chaotic 1990s. Veterans groups turned to organized crime to make enough money to replace the functions previously fulfilled by the Soviet state, paying pensions, building monuments, and buying wheelchairs. This dissertation traces the three largest veterans' organizations in Russia, which during the transition to a market economy, became the foundation of criminal organizations that grew increasingly powerful over the course of the 1990s, first filling the void left by the Soviet Union, and then transforming into the modern Russian state.