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The making of terrorists

Anthropology and the alternative truth of America's 'War on Terror' in the Sahara

Jeremy Keenan

This article, based on almost eight years of continuous anthropological research amongst the Tuareg people of the Sahara and Sahel, suggests that the launch by the US and its main regional ally, Algeria, in 2002–2003 of a ‘new’, ‘second’, or ‘Saharan’ Front in the ‘War on Terror’ was largely a fabrication on the part of the US and Algerian military intelligence services. The ‘official truth’, embodied in an estimated 3,000 articles and reports of one sort or another, is largely disinformation. The article summarizes how and why this deception was effected and examines briefly its implications for both the region and its people as well as the future of US international relations and especially its global pursuance of an increasingly suspect ‘War on Terror’.

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Jason M. Costanzo, Caroline Walsh, Fazel Khan, Douglas Farland and Roger Deacon

Introduction to German Philosophy: From Kant to Habermas, by Andrew Bowie

Global Justice and Transnational Politics: Essays on the Moral and Political Challenges of Globalization edited by Pablo de Greiff and Ciaran Cronin Caroline Walsh

Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War and the Roots of Terror by Mahmood Mamdani Clash of Fundamentalisms by Tariq Ali Fazel Khan

An Introduction to Contemporary Meta-Ethics by Alexander Miller Douglas Farland

The New Wars by Herfried Münkler Roger Deacon

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Living in a Culture of Fear (2005)

A Jewish Perspective

Jeffrey Newman

The Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, wrote of Abraham in ‘fear and trembling’. I am writing this with a sense of panic and terror and so, as always in such a situation, will need to proceed very slowly, taking great care, step by step. What is such fear about? I want to suggest that these feelings, or more accurately, some aspects of them, are inevitable in our human condition, that they are part of what has been called ‘primary anxiety’, which some see as inherent in our awareness of ourselves as mortal human beings.

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'Delinquents, Troublemakers, Pirates and Gangsters'

New Wars in the Postpolitical Borderland

Mikkel Thorup

This article tries to actualize Carl Schmitt's critique of liberal internationalism in what the author calls the 'liberal globalist paradigm', which substitutes a post-sovereign humanitarian-moralist discourse for political arguments. This discourse helps shape a new inequality in the interstate system based on the ability to invoke humanist language; an ability that is systematically skewed in favour of Western states. The post-sovereign discourse hides an aggressive liberal antipluralism which only acknowledges liberal-capitalist societies as legitimate and reserving the right to intervene and criticize globally. The new re-configuration of power manifests itself in the war on terror and in humanitarian interventions.

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"Going vertical" in times of insecurity

Constructing proximity and distance through a Kenyan gated high-rise

Zoë Goodman

The global proliferation of elite high-rise apartments is often read as evidence of social failure, of increasing socioeconomic disparity and fragmentation. The Jaffery Complex, a vertiginous gated high-rise being constructed in the Kenyan port of Mombasa, seems to embody Corbusian ideologies of social transformation based on an explicit distancing from the streets below, insulating its incoming residents from the frequently fused threats of terror, poverty, and crime. However, ethnographic attention to the multistory mosque located within the complex challenges readings of elite stacked housing solutions as “vertical cocoons,” and reveals the tension between proximity and distance that this urban redevelopment strives to construct.

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Epifanio San Juan Jr.

After the excesses of fascism in World War II and inter-ethnic conflicts in Africa, the Middle East, and the former Yugoslavia, it became axiomatic for postmodernist thinkers to condemn the nation and its corollary terms, ‘nationalism’ and ‘nation-state,’ as the classic evils of modern industrial society. The nation-state, its reality if not its concept, has become a kind of malignant paradox if not a sinister conundrum. It is often linked to violence and the terror of ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Nonetheless, the U.N. and the interstate system of nation-states still function as seemingly viable institutions of everyday life.1 How do we explain these seemingly paradoxical trends?

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This issue is the third in an ongoing series examining the political, social and economic implications of war in the contemporary world. Previous issues on this theme (Theoria 109, April 2006, and 110, August 2006) touched on debates about ‘old’ and ‘new’wars, militant American neoconservatism and the war on terror, the ramifications of humanitarian intervention and conscientious objection, and prospects for global justice and peace. The implications of current U.S. foreign policy continue to loom large in this issue, but the focus falls in addition on the personal and moral effects of war and its consequences for the individual: the moral claims behind the Bush Doctrine, and its effects on domestic issues and personal life, the question of targeted killings of individual terrorists, the continued relevance and utility of Clausewitz’s theory of war, and the use of foreign health aid as a deterrent to bioterrorism.

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Lesley Gill

Debates about the relationship of anthropology to the U.S. national security establishment are not new, and anthropologists are now forced to confront the issue again. Since the 11 September attacks, the U.S. military has stepped up efforts to recruit anthropologists to fight the so-called "war on terror," and a group of self-identified "security anthropologists" have organized for more recognition and legitimation within the American Anthropological Association. The article considers what is new about the current controversy, and it examines the issues at stake for anthropologists and the people who they study. It argues that anthropologists need to raise anew basic questions about their disciplinary and intellectual endeavors and that they must re-educate themselves on the realities of power.

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"History Written with a Little Spite"

Palmer, Brinton, and an American Debate on the French Revolution

John Layton Harvey

How did the historical profession in America view the French democratic tradition during the international crisis of modern liberalism of the twentieth century? Although Robert R. Palmer is remembered for his historical texts, his defense of popular democracy in the historiography of the French Revolution was an important, and as yet overlooked, contribution to the intellectual defense of democratic values during the 1930s, just when Western faith in "enlightened reason" was reaching a new low. This contest becomes visible in Palmer's debate on the meaning of the Revolution and the Great Terror with the Harvard historian, Crane Brinton. Viewed in the discipline's historical context, their debate shows that, rather than a consensual support for the ideal of European popular democracy, up to the 1950s American specialists of European history were quite divided on the French republican and revolutionary experience.

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Tom Rockmore

9/11 represents less a tear in the fabric of history, or a break with the past, than an inflection in ongoing historical processes, such as the continued expansion of capitalism that at some recent time has supposedly attained a level of globalization. This paper considers the relation of war and politics with respect to three instances arising in the wake of 9/11, including the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, and finally the global war on terror (GWT). I argue that these wars are superficially dissimilar, but that on a deeper level they all relate to a single ideological position that is an important motivation in current US foreign policy, and that this position is further related to capitalism.