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Unbecoming Veteranship

Convicted Military Officers in Post-authoritarian Argentina

Eva van Roekel and Valentina Salvi

Abstract

In post-authoritarian Argentina, veterans who participated in the brutal counterinsurgency of the last dictatorship (1976–1983) inhabit an extremely inconsistent citizenship, alternatively violating and respecting legal rights and entitlements. This article looks at how alternating transitional justice practices and the ever-changing moral discourses about warfare and accountability create highly unstable access to rights, resources, and entitlements for these veterans in Argentina. The recent shift toward retribution for crimes against humanity in Argentina has legally consolidated their moral downfall. From being untouchable and exemplary officers until the early 1980s, the now convicted military officers have been demoted twice by the state and the military institution. Based on long-term fieldwork with the convicted officers and their kin, this article traces the contingent relation between the moral and legal practices that underlie this double downfall that constitutes a fluctuating process of un/becoming veteranship for these veterans. Their veteranship, for that matter, depends on highly conflictive and transformative sociopolitical processes that speak to broader moral dispositions surrounding legal rights, entitlements, and worthiness for veterans.

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Unintended Securitization

Military, Medical, and Political-Security Discourses in the Humanitarian Treatment of Syrian Casualties in Israel

Hedva Eyal and Limor Samimian-Darash

Abstract

In this article, we examine statements by state officials and individuals from the military and the medical establishment regarding the provision of medical aid by Israel to casualties from the Syrian Civil War. We argue discussions of this project have been characterized by three different discourses, each dominant at different times, which we classify as military, medical, and political-security. We propose “unintended securitization” to describe how the project moved from the military into the medical-civilian and then into the political sphere, and came to be seen as advancing the security interests of the Israeli state. We argue the relationship between humanitarianism and securitization seen here challenges the view that humanitarian apparatuses are often subordinated to military rationales by showing how securitization here emerged from the demilitarization of what was initially a military project.

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Erin R. Eldridge

Abstract

Coal ash, the waste generated at coal-burning power plants, is one of the largest waste streams in the United States, and it contains a range of contaminants, including arsenic and mercury. Disasters at coal ash waste sites in recent years have led to increased public scrutiny of coal ash in communities and have sparked policy debates, lawsuits, and complaints throughout the country. With emphasis on federal and state coal ash policies since the 1970s, this article highlights the synthesis of government and corporate power in coal ash politics, and the bureaucratic processes affecting communities near coal ash sites. Based on ethnographic research following the 2008 Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash disaster, as well as preliminary research on the “social life” of coal ash in North Carolina, this article specifically offers ethnographic insight into the lived experiences of social and ecological violence created, perpetuated, and normalized through bureaucratic processes.

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Peter Hervik

Abstract

This afterword offers reflections on some major points of this section concerning the generative power linking moral outrage to political violence. The authors have successfully taken up a topic of immense relevance and urgency in contemporary society. Their efforts are a first important step to address this from an empirical, analytical, and theoretical framework. In the afterword, I seek to add further perspectives to some of the findings, including a focus on moral outrage that situates it not strictly within personality as a preexisting universal that waits for someone to wake it up but rather in an approach to emotions as embedded within cultural understandings with an emphasis on the strategic side of the production of moral outrage in creating both positive and negative change.

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Bonee and Fitina

Mbororo Nomads Facing and Adapting to Conflict in Central Africa

Adamou Amadou

Abstract

Mbororo nomadic pastoralists have fled the Central African Republic (CAR) since 2003 because of atrocities perpetrated against them. Conflict has, in fact, always been a major motor behind nomadism for the Mbororo, along with the quest for pasture. The “normal” severity of Mbororo life, however, has been compounded by the “exceptional” severity caused by the situation in the CAR. This article analyzes the way in which the Mbororo distinguish between the two types of severity, and how these different forms of experienced hardship are accommodated in the pastoralists’ way of life. I show how historical trajectories with conflict and nomadic hardship allow refugee Mbororo to adjust to recurrent hardship by adapting their pathways and livelihood strategies. This illustrates the way in which duress is central in nomadic society.

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Amanda J. Reinke

ABSTRACT

Alternative justice—conflict resolution outside formal law—seeks to alleviate pervasive social issues, such as the school-to-prison pipeline. Alternative justice practitioners increasingly seek to transform the legal system and the violence it perpetuates from within by implementing programs and processes in collaboration with formal law and legal actors. However, this collaborative approach requires practitioners to create bureaucratic processes and procedures such as memoranda of understanding, complex filing systems, and data tracking. Multisited ethnographic research in the United States (2014-2017) reveals that there is little consensus among these practitioners as to whether this bureaucratization will benefit or harm their work. The bureaucracy of processing case work, implementing standardized procedures, extending training requirements, and cost barriers are viewed positively insofar as they gain legitimacy for the field. Is bureaucratization necessary to achieve legitimacy, or does it restrict practitioners’ ability to fulfill client needs and the principles of their justice paradigm?

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Danger, Moral Opacity, and Outrage

Fear of Jihadism and the Terrorist Threat in Southern Mali

Tone Sommerfelt

Abstract

This article explores hostile narratives and moral outrage in the context of rising conflict in urban Mali, with a specific emphasis on religious and spatial politics in Bamako. Based on ethnographic observations, interviews, and group discussions, the article examines the specific forms that moral outrage may take in contexts of insecurity and an imminent threat of violence. It argues that moral outrage concerns the transgression of values that are intrinsic to moral being. In the Mali setting, moral outrage emerges as justifiable when people fail, or refuse, to make visible or prove their moral being. Suspected ill-doers are ascribed economic, political, and religious agendas that threaten what it means to be Muslim and that violate the value of the mutual solidarity of the Muslim community and of the nation. At the same time, the public expression of moral outrage contributes to a broader negotiation of identities and state-society relationships.

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Meike J. de Goede

Abstract

The Matsouanist religion in Congo-Brazzaville has its roots in Amicale, a sociopolitical association and movement that aimed to improve the rights of colonial subjects that emerged in the late 1920s. After its leader, André Matsoua, died in prison, the movement transformed into a religion that worships Matsoua as a prophet. In this article, I argue that this transformation should be understood not as a rupture but as continuation, albeit in a different discursive domain. This transformation was steered by duress, or the internalization of structural violence in everyday life under colonialism. Through this discursive transformation, Matsoua’s followers appropriated the movement and brought it into a culturally known place that enabled them to continue their struggle for liberation from colonial oppression.

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Mirjam de Bruijn

Abstract

Africa is at the lower end of internet use, but Facebook Connectivity is rapidly increasing, linking diaspora and local people in mainly urban regions in Africa. A survey conducted in N’Djaména revealed that 1 in 10 people uses Facebook, which is an important platform for these connected Chadians to express feelings, write thoughts, and create networks (i.e., to create a social life). In countries where daily conflict, oppression, insecurity, and mistrust pervade social life, posts and messages engage with these circumstances in a certain dialogue, which can be understood as an expression of duress. This article follows three Facebook users from both the diaspora and N’Djaména, and I position their Facebook expressions and actions in the context of their personal lives in contemporary Chadian political and connectivity history. Facebook appears to be an escape route from the reality of duress, and a form of practical action coupled with political agency.

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Introduction

Understanding Experiences and Decisions in Situations of Enduring Hardship in Africa

Mirjam de Bruijn and Jonna Both

Abstract

The enduring experience of hardship, in the form of layers of various crises, can become deeply ingrained in a society, and people can come to act and react under these conditions as if they lead a normal life. This process is explored through the analytical concept of duress, which contains three elements: enduring and accumulating layers of hardship over time, the normalization of this hardship, and a form of deeply constrained agency. We argue that decisions made in duress have a significant impact on the social and political structures of society. This concept of duress is used as a lens to understand the lives of individual people and societies in Central and West Africa that have a long history of ecological, political, and social conflicts and crises.