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Corporal Punishment in Japan

One Path to Positive Anthropological Activism

Aaron L. Miller

This article is about the controversial educational practice of corporal punishment – known as taibatsu in Japan – which challenged me to reflect upon my anthropological heart and find my anthropological identity. Corporal punishment is a practice around which many ideas and discourses about education, social order, human rights and even power swirl, and it is therefore an inherently sociocultural practice wherever it takes place. Like other forms of violence, it also poses a personal challenge to anthropologists who observe it in practice and have to decide whether to remain an observing bystander. At one time, I made that choice. In this article, I explain why I no longer do.

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Introduction

History, Violence, and Steven Pinker

Mark S. Micale and Philip Dwyer

In the closing months of 2011, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker published The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and Its Causes.1 Weighing in at over eight hundred closely printed pages, Pinker’s book advances a bold, revisionist thesis: despite the relentless deluge of violent, sensationalist stories in the pervasive electronic media of our day, Pinker proposes, violence in the human world, in nearly every form, has in fact declined dramatically. Over the past several thousand years, and particularly since the eighteenth century, homicides, criminal assaults, war casualties, domestic violence, child abuse, animal abuse, capital punishment, lynching, and rape have all been steadily diminishing in frequency.

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Simon Avery and Andrew Maunder

In October 1860, the New York-based magazine, Harper’s New Monthly, offered its readers this scathing commentary on the apparently morbid tendency among their British cousins to delve into the private lives of famous men and women. The magazine’s onslaught was both topical and contentious. The pleasures and punishments of fame experienced by such victimised ‘lions’ as Charles Dickens and Edward Bulwer Lytton, together with the public’s apparent right to ‘know’ everything, struck the writer as not only ‘vulgar’ but as clear evidence (if any were needed) of a degenerate culture. The situation was bad in America but much worse in Britain for there, as Harper’s noted, ‘John Bull is very fond of . . . talking about the private history of public men – prying into their bathing-tubs and counting the moles upon their necks.’ In the name of both art and decency, Harper’s made the following plea: ‘For the honour of the guild – for the fair name of literature – let us have done with peeping through keyholes and listening at cracks.’

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Silence against Political Rape

Arab Women's Subalterniy During Political Struggles

Ola Abdalkafor

Arab Spring movements in many Arab countries revealed a gap at the heart of Arab society and politics: the large-scale subalternity of Arab women in such movements. In this essay, I hypothesize that, with few exceptions, Arab women have always avoided participation in social and political activism because of their fear of political rape – raping women as punishment during political turmoil. The essay traces the history of political rape through different stages of Arab history. The examples are taken from history, literature and international reports and they mainly cover three countries: Syria, Egypt, and Libya. These examples prove that vulnerable women’s horror at any possibility of their being sexually abused and then rejected by their families and society has always haunted them, preventing them from struggling or protesting. The essay concludes that subalternity is the only stance from which Arab women can encounter political rape. Then, the essay discusses the subalternity of Arab women in the light of the thought of the postcolonial critic Gayatri Spivak. This argument leads to the contention that the silence of Arab women vulnerable to political rape should not be considered passive and that feminist theories and actions cannot be successful in supporting subaltern Arab women without the ethical responsibility theorized by Spivak as the most appropriate approach to the subaltern female. This approach entails respecting subaltern Arab women’s culture and fears and avoiding any attempt to make them copies of the European feminist self. Subaltern Arab women who are afraid of being sexually abused have the right to protect their bodies and stick to their culture while still participating in public life.