Christianity arose out of a conflict situation, and to this day it bears the characteristics of this original conflict. It begins with individuals, families and groups of Jewish sectarians who want to assert themselves in competition with other Jewish sectarians. They withdraw from one another. They outdo one another in part rhetorically, in part in their practice and then sometimes also politically, tactically and – on the side of the Christians – eventually with acts of violence.
‘Clash of civilizations’, ‘discord between the religions’: terms that, in different variations, have constantly accompanied us in recent times. Some believe that conflicts between cultures and religions are unavoidable; others claim that it is only the religions that can guarantee or prevent peace on earth. At the moment, the fact that there could possibly be causes for conflict other than religion seems not to be noticed or to be purposely ignored.
David McIvor’s Mourning in America and Simon Stow’s American Mourning
Greta Fowler Snyder
What does a democratically-productive form of mourning look like in America? David McIvor’s Mourning in America and Simon Stow’s American Mourning argue that it entails the embrace of ambivalence about self and other. Democratically-productive mourning pushes against the tendencies toward idealization and demonization. Embracing ambivalence enables us to move to more effective political engagement in the context of both collaboration and conflict. It allows us to understand that the process of mourning must be ongoing both to protect us from political excesses to which we are prone and to push society toward justice.
Erella Grassiani, Alexander Horstmann, Lotte Buch Segal, Ronald Stade, and Henrik Vigh
Violence, defined as the intentional inflicting of injury and damage, seems to always have been a fact of human life. Whether in the shape of raids, ambushes, wars, massacres, genocides, insurgences, terrorism, or gang assaults, socially organized violence, that is, human groups orchestrating and committing violent acts, has been a steady companion of human life through the ages. The human quest to make sense of violence is probably as old as violence itself. Academic conflict research both continues and advances this quest. As long as wars were waged between nations, the research on armed conflicts focused on international relations and great power politics. This paradigm was kept alive even when the asymmetrical warfare of decolonization spread across the world, because by then the frame of analysis was the binary system of the Cold War and regional conflicts were classifi ed as proxy wars. After the end of the Cold War, the academic interest in forms of organized violence other than international conflict became more general in the social sciences, not least in anthropology, a discipline whose long-standing research interest in violent conflict previously had been directed almost exclusively towards “tribal warfare.” But, following their research tradition, anthropologists also began to conduct field studies in contemporary war zones and other violent settings.
The Perspective of Outsiders
Soli Vered and Daniel Bar-Tal
This study explores features of the routinization of the Israeli-Arab conflict in everyday life in Israel. Specifically, it examines how foreign students view this aspect of the culture of conflict, compared to the point of view of Israeli students born into the day-to-day reality of a society that has been engaged in an intractable conflict for decades. Findings show that foreigners perceived and identified various conflict-related routines that have been absorbed into the social and physical spaces of daily life in Israel, becoming unnoticeable to Israelis. This was the case particularly with various images and symbols of the conflict that saturate both public and private spaces, conflict-related informal norms of behavior, and the central place that the conflict occupies in private interpersonal discourse. These results are discussed in relation to the functionalities of the routinization of the conflict and its implications.
Human Rights, Transitional Justice, and Memories of Resistance in Post-Conflict Timor-Leste
This article examines the effects of human rights and transitional justice on memories of Timor-Leste’s resistance to the Indonesian occupation, which lasted from 1975 to 1999. Data comes from ethnographic fieldwork in Timor, centered around remembrance of two major acts of resistance: an armed uprising in 1983 and a peaceful demonstration in 1991. The article argues that in Timor, an “apolitical” human rights has caused a post-conflict “democratization of perpetration”, in that similar culpability is assigned to all those who caused suffering in the conflict with Indonesia through physical violence, irrespective of context. Transitional justice has thus expanded the category of perpetrator in Timor, to include some who legally used armed resistance against Indonesian rule. Studies of violence have belatedly turned toward examining perpetrators of state terror; this article examines how discourses of human rights and transitional justice shape perceptions of those who resist state terror with violence.
Paul E. Farmer
What are the true costs of war? If anthropologists are to help answer this question, it will be because we can link personal narratives (and qualitative methods) to historically deep and geographically broad analyses of conflict. This essay seeks to explore the costs of armed conflict—the economic, affective, and general social costs of war—by examining the experience of a single family, two generations of it, caught in the midst of two conflicts. Their experience links the United States to Haiti, Cuba, and Iraq. As limited as conclusions might be, in reflecting on these narratives, we might still conclude that the true costs of war are rarely, if ever, gauged.
Greek Cypriots’ “return” Pilgrimages to the Monastery of Apostolos Andreas (Cyprus)
travel to the monastery, I will show how, in light of the ongoing conflict and the long period of movement restrictions, the location of AA means the pilgrimage functions as a medium of getting to know the island, and especially that part of it which for
Beyond the Conflict-Consensus Divide
Henrik P. Bang
This article examines the consensus-conflict divide within contemporary democratic theory as manifested in the works of Jürgen Habermas, Chantal Mouffe, Jacques Rancière, and John Rawls. It relates the democratic crisis diagnosis to the presence of this conceptual divide and suggests overcoming it by focusing on the work of Michel Foucault, especially his concept of the “rectangle of the good parrhesia.” Foucault's analysis goes beyond conflict-consensus through its positive and creative reconceptualization of political authority featuring a transformative capacity linked to the idea of telling the truth.
The rationale for this special section of Conflict and Society lies in anthropology’s relatively recent and steadily growing application to the study of political violence in its various manifestations, from everyday instances of subtle structural violence to more overt cases of war and mass atrocities. In the late 1990s, Carolyn Nordstrom’s (1997) work among soldiers and ordinary civilians whose lives had been intimately affected by Mozambique’s civil war and Antonius Robben’s (1996) work among survivors and perpetrators of Argentina’s Dirty War enabled an important shift among ethnographers. Whereas in the past ethnographers typically focused on violence and warfare in substate and prestate societies, Nordstrom and Robben emphasized the foundations of political violence in complex state societies. Their work led to the emergence of a small cohort of ethnographers—among them Philippe Bourgois (2003), Nancy Scheper-Hughes (1997, 2002), and Neil Whitehead (2002, 2004)—specialized in what was soon termed “the ethnography of political violence”