According to both common wisdom and long-standing tradition, the ideal of peace is central to the morality of war. I argue that this notion is mistaken, not because peace is unachievable and utopian, though it might be for many of today's asymmetrical conflicts; nor because the pursuit of peace is counterproductive, though, again, it might be for many of today's conflicts; the problem, rather, is that the pursuit of peace is not a proper objective of war.
Jeppe von Platz
Visual Technology, Virtual Reality, and the Experience of War
Jose N. Vasquez
This article addresses the question of how visual technology—night vision, thermal imaging, and virtual reality—has changed the experience of war for both combatants and non-combatants. Video and still images are analyzed to draw out some of the phenomenological aspects of how technology mitigates the perception of combat and its resultant casualties. I argue that while visual technology makes the experience of war more intimate, it also generates psychological distance between the viewer and the viewed. Weapons equipped with visual technology facilitate war crimes by dehumanizing the individuals being targeted and filtering the carnage these weapons produce.
A Preliminary Exploration
This article examines some of the ways in which Plato conveys a concern with peace and what conceptions of peace he has a concern with. I first consider Plato’s attitude to war (πόλεμος) and its conventional opposite, peace (εἰρήνη). In this context we find very little concern with peace at all and, by contrast, a somewhat disturbing emphasis on the importance of war. However, if we turn from war to a different type of conflict, faction (στάσις), we find a distinct difference. Plato considers faction unproductive because of the internal divisions it sustains. Yet Plato does not specifically call the opposite of faction ‘peace’; instead, he uses terms that have different extensions for us, such as δικαιοσύνη (‘justice’). Nevertheless, it is possible to outline a positive Platonic conception of peace by tabling a set a of peace-related terms. I distinguish three categories of terms that describe (1) conditions of peace (or negative peace), (2) dispositions of peacefulness, and (3) relations of peace, where such relations result from the expression of peaceful dispositions. My examination suggests that positive peace, for Plato, is founded on the unity and integrity of character. Only when individuals are at peace with themselves can peace within society be achieved.
Arguing that the resistance in France during the Second World War was always transnational in important ways, this piece identifies some of the recent scholarship that has expanded both the temporal and geographic parameters of the French Resistance. It introduces some of the key themes of this collection of articles and underscores the important contributions made by the participating authors. As these articles reveal, we can find sites of transnational resistance by looking at the relationship between the Allies and the resistance, the role that non-French denizens played in the resistance, the politics of cultural resistance, and the circulation of downed Anglo-American aircrews in Europe.
Everyday Ethnic Identity in Bosnia-Herzegovina
Structurally inspired anthropological analyses of war and violence tend to claim that conflicts have an inherent potential to create unambiguous identities. Based on ethnographic data from everyday life among the Muslim population of Stolac in postwar Bosnia and Herzegovina the article shows that this is not necessarily the case. Instead of resorting to the politically created dichotomous categories of ethnic exclusion, the Muslims of Stolac favored ambiguous identifications highlighting coexistence and interethnic respect. In this way of refraining from exclusive ethnic antagonistic identifications they experimented with ways of inhabiting the world together with the ethnic others; mainly the Croat population of Stolac.
This essay is concerned with where the current of global political and economic events runs. It addresses this concern by erecting an argument in three stages. First, a string being theory (SBT) is outlined. Second, this theory is used to formulate an SBT approach to imperialism, one that might be imagined as Lenin by alternative (theoretical) means, emphasizing the role of violent force. The 'seven deadly sirens'—generalizations that predict the exercise of violent force under different conditions in imperial systems—are introduced. Third, certain post-1945 US government uses of violence are analyzed in terms of their fit with the seven sirens' predictions. Oil depletion is considered as contributing to systemic crisis in capital accumulation, and its role in Gulf War II is explored. It is concluded that US government violence is consistent with the sirens' predictions. The essay terminates with speculation about where the current runs.
Reading Primers and Political Change in European Countries around 1945
Wendelin Sroka and Simona Szakács-Behling
This introduction addresses the origins, general assumptions and intentions of the special issue. The guest editors show how reading primers published and used around the end of the Second World War in several European countries may serve as an object of study in different disciplinary contexts. They present a broad working definition of the reading primer as an educational medium that lends itself to interdisciplinary research which takes into account aspects such as visual and textual content, materiality, and societal contexts of production, distribution and usage. The editors further highlight characteristics of current research into primers and argue in favor of more comparative approaches that reveal transnational dimensions of textbooks designed to teach children how to read and write.
Meaningful illness and military victimhood
Zoë H. Wool
Finley, Erin. 2011. Fields of combat: Understanding PTSD among veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. 240 pages.
Kilshaw, Susie. 2009. Impotent warriors: Gulf War syndrome, vulnerability and masculinity. Oxford: Berghahn Books. 282 pages.
Machismo, Chivalry, and the Aggressive Pastimes of the Medieval Male Youth
This article draws on research into medieval childhood to argue that the violence of male youth activities was not simply a result of their age and hormones—“boys will be boys”—but was positively encouraged by society and the state as training for their potential roles in conflicts, for war was all pervasive and all important. The violent games and pastimes of male youths are discussed in light of their relevance to war, as they progress into sports that served as military training. The focus here is on the chivalric tournament, the apogee of such entertainments and a form of medieval war games within a violent sports spectacle. A primary intention of such training was to foster combat primary group cohesion among the male youths preparing to engage in war with its codes of chivalry.
The Metaphysics of Police Vigilantism in India
This article describes and explains “police vigilantism” as a mode of authoritative extralegal coercion performed by public police officials conceived as doing their duty to realize justice in the world. Based on ethnographic observations, interviews, and content analysis of news and entertainment media as well as official government reports, this essay examines a specific form of police vigilantism in contemporary India known as “encounter killings”. Demonstrating that encounter killings are widely constituted as a form of ritual purification and social defense by self-sacrificing police, it theorizes a metaphysics of police vigilantism in India that combines generalized experiences of insecurity with shared cosmologies of just war. Comparing this metaphysics with justifications of state violence in other Global South contexts, this study sheds light on how such violence may be legitimated through the conceptual inextricability of law and war as embodied in a uniquely constituted human figure: the police vigilante.