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Post-war Blood

Sacrifice, Anti-sacrifice, and the Rearticulations of Conflict in Sri Lanka

Neena Mahadev

Since 2009, in the aftermath of Sri Lanka’s ethnic war, certain contingents of Sinhala Buddhists have lodged attacks against religious minorities, whom they censure for committing violence against animals in accordance with the dictates of their gods. Considering these interventions against sacrifice in spaces of shared Hindu and Buddhist religiosity, this article examines the economies of derogation, violence, and scapegoating in post-war Sri Lanka. Within Sinhala Buddhism, sacrifice is considered bio-morally impure yet politically efficacious, whereas meritorious Buddhist discipleship is sacrificial only in aspirational, bloodless terms. Nevertheless, both practices fall within the spectrum of Sinhala Buddhist religious life. Majoritarian imperatives concerning postwar blood impinge upon marginal sites of shared religiosity—spaces where the blood of animals is spilled and, ironically, where political potency can be substantively shored up. The article examines the siting of sacrifice and the purifying majoritarian interventions against it, as Buddhists strive to assert sovereignty over religious others.

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A Ritual Demystified

The Work of Anti-wonder among Sufi Reformists and Traditionalists in a Macedonian Roma Neighborhood

Galina Oustinova-Stjepanovic

This article describes how an iconic mystical Sufi ritual of body wounding, zarf, was stripped of its mystical credentials and conventional efficacy amid tensions between Rifai reformists and traditionalists in a small Roma neighborhood in Skopje, Macedonia. The death of a sorcerer and a funeral event-series set the scene for acts of ‘anti-wonder’ and demystification by the Rifai reformists. Despite the history of socialist secularism and inadvertently secularizing Islamic reforms in the region, demystification signaled not the loss of enchantment per se, but a competition for legitimate forms of wonder. In addition to accounting for socio-historical context and relational forms of Islam, the real challenge is how to see a demystified ritual for its explicit intellectual capacity to stimulate speculation about itself.

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Sacred Spaces and Civic Action

Topographies of Pluralism in Russia

Melissa L. Caldwell

This article examines several key sites where Russia’s civic and religious bodies intersect in pursuit of social justice goals. Based on ethnographic fieldwork among religious communities and social justice organizations in Moscow, the article focuses on the physical, social, and legal spaces where church and state, secular and sacred, civic and personal intersect and the consequences of these intersections for how Russians understand new configurations of church and state, private and public, religious and political. Of particular concern is the emergence of new forms of religious and political pluralism that transcend any one particular space, such as for worship, community life, or political support or protest, and instead reveal shifting practices and ethics of social justice that are more pluralist, progressive, and tolerant than they may appear to be to outside observers.

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Achieving the Ordinary

Everyday Peace and the Other in Bosnian Mixed-Ethnicity Families

Keziah Conrad

Abstract

In Bosnia, 20 years after a war of ethnic cleansing, mixed-ethnicity families swim against the stream of nationalist separatism that insists all Bosnians should be neatly sorted into ethnic categories. When asked about their experiences, however, mixed families in Sarajevo during fieldwork from 2011 to 2012 repeatedly insisted that they were just “ordinary,” “normal” families. In this article, I look closely at an ordinary evening in the life of one such family, examining how they achieve this atmosphere of everydayness within which ordinary kin relationships are sustained despite the volatility of differences in ethnic and religious affiliation. Using a conversation analytic approach and building on the work of ordinary ethics theorists, I argue that the sense of being an ordinary family is an accomplishment constituted through active intersubjective work.

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Abhishek Choudhary, Rhys Machold, Ricardo Cardoso, Andreas Hackl, Martha Lagace, and Carly Machado

How Rivalries End By Karen Rasler, William R. Thompson, and Sumit Ganguly. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013. 280 pp. 4 illus. Hardback. ISBN 978-0-8122-4498-4.

The Privatization of Israeli Security By Shir Hever. London: Pluto Press, 2018. 256 pp. Hardcover. ISBN 978-0-7453-3720-3.

Working the System: A Political Ethnography of the New Angola By Jon Schubert. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2017. 270 pp. 5 illus. Hardcover. ISBN 978-1-5017-1369-9.

Overlooking the Border: Narratives of Divided Jerusalem By Dana Hercbergs. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2018. 284 pp. 46 illus. Hardcover. ISBN 978-0-8143-4108-7.

Out of War: Violence, Trauma, and the Political Imagination in Sierra Leone By Mariane C. Ferme. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2018. 336 pp. Paperback. ISBN 978-0-52029-438-7.

Sporadically Radical: Ethnographies of Organised Violence and Militant Mobilization Edited by Steffen Jensen and Henrik E. Vigh. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press. 290 pp. Paperback. ISBN 978-8-76354-602-7.

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The Debts of War

Bifurcated Veterans’ Mobilization and Political Order in Post-settlement El Salvador

Ralph Sprenkels

Abstract

This article examines mobilization by civil war veterans of the insurgency and the government army. These veterans became a major political force in postwar El Salvador. I demonstrate that the ascendency of the war veterans hinged on the combination of two types of mobilization: “internal” mobilization for partisan leverage, and public mobilization to place claims on the state. By this bifurcated mobilization, veterans from both sides of the war pursued clientelist benefits and postwar political influence. Salvadoran veterans’ struggles for recognition revolve around attempts to transform what the veterans perceive as the “debts of war” into postwar political order. The case of El Salvador highlights the versatility and resilience of veterans’ struggles in post-settlement contexts in which contention shifted from military confrontation to electoral competition.

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Departheid

The Draconian Governance of Illegalized Migrants in Western States

Barak Kalir

Abstract

This article proposes the term Departheid to capture the systemic oppression and spatial management of illegalized migrants in Western liberal states. As a concept, Departheid aims to move beyond the instrumentality of illegalizing migration in order to comprehend the tenacity with which oppressive measures are implemented even in the face of accumulating evidence for their futility in managing migration flows and the harm they cause to millions of people. The article highlights continuities between present oppressive migration regimes and past colonial configurations for controlling the mobility of what Hannah Arendt has called “subject races.” By drawing on similarities with Apartheid as a governing ideology based on racialization, segregation, and deportation, I argue that Departheid, too, is animated by a sense of moral superiority that is rooted in a fantasy of White supremacy.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Awkward

The Making of War Veterans in Postindependence Mozambique

Nikkie Wiegink

Abstract

This article traces the emergence of three categories of war veterans in postindependence Mozambique: former fighters of the liberation war against the Portuguese colonial administration, the former soldiers of the Mozambican Armed Forces, and former Renamo combatants who both fought in the postindependence war. The article follows the emergence, negotiation, contestation, and transformations of these categories through memory politics, bureaucratic practices of inclusion and exclusion, and veterans’ collective political practices “from below.” By showing how some war veterans are come to be regarded as “worthy” of privileged state resources and others as enemies of the state, while again others are in an in-between position, the article shows how war veterans come to occupy specific citizenship positions and that these positions are contingent and changeable over time.

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Introduction

War Veterans and the Construction of Citizenship Categories

Nikkie Wiegink, Ralph Sprenkels, and Birgitte Refslund Sørensen

Abstract

War veterans often constitute a specific category of citizens as they inspire and bring forward particular claims on recognition and resources of the state. The authors featured in this special section each explore processes of the construction of categories of war veterans in different contemporary contexts. Drawing on ethnographic data, the contributions explore the interactions between (those identified) as war veterans and the state, and the processes concerned with granting value to participation in war. This involves (the denial of) rights and privileges as well as a process of identity construction. The construction of war veterans as a specific kind of citizens is a political phenomenon, subject to negotiation and contestation, involving both the external categorizations of war veterans as well as the self-making and identity politics from former fighters “from below.”

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Invisible Veterans

Defeated Militants and Enduring Revolutionary Social Values in Dhufar, Oman

Alice Wilson

Abstract

Those who have participated in organized political violence often develop distinctive identities as veteran combatants. But what possibilities exist to produce a veteran identity for “invisible” veterans denied public recognition or mention, such as politically repressed defeated insurgents? Everyday socializing during or after political violence can help restore social worlds threatened or destroyed by violence; an examination of “invisible” veteran defeated revolutionaries in Dhufar, Oman, shows how everyday socializing can help reproduce a distinctive veteran identity despite political repression. Ethnographic fieldwork with veteran militants from the defeated revolutionary liberation movement for Dhufar reveals that while veterans (who are a diverse group) no longer publicly reproduce their political and economic revolutionary ideals, some male veterans—through everyday, same-sex socializing—reproduce revolutionary ideals of social, especially tribal and ethnic, egalitarianism. These practices mark a distinctive veteran identity and indicate an “afterlife” of lasting social legacies of defeated revolution.