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Introduction

The Generative Power of Political Emotions

Mette-Louise Johansen, Therese Sandrup and Nerina Weiss

Moral outrage has until now been conceptualized as a call to action, a reaction to injustice and transgressions, and a forceful motor for democratic participation, acts of civil disobedience, and violent and illicit action. This introduction goes beyond linear causality between trigger events, political emotions, and actions to explore moral outrage as it is experienced and expressed in contexts of political violence, providing a better understanding of that emotion’s generic power. Moral outrage is here understood as a multidimensional emotion that may occur momentarily and instantly, and exist as an enduring process and being-in-the-world, based on intergenerational experiences of violence, state histories, or local contexts of fear and anxiety. Because it appears in the intersubjective field, moral outrage is central for identity politics and social positioning, so we show how moral outrage may be a prism to investigate and understand social processes such as mobilization, collectivities, moral positioning and responsiveness, and political violence.

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Jeffrey A. Sluka

The ethnography of state terror is “high risk” research and there are real personal dangers for anyone who conducts fieldwork on this issue. Managing such dangers has particularly become an issue for those conducting primary research with perpetrators of state terror—the “rank and file” who apply the electric cattle prods and pull the triggers—and all of the researchers I know who have taken this path have been threatened in one form or another. Th is article reviews the core literature and latest developments in managing the physical dangers inherent in the ethnography of political violence and state terror, particularly fieldwork or primary research with the actual perpetrators themselves, makes practical recommendations for managing such dangers, and presents some ideas for developing risk management plans or protocols for researcher survival in perilous field sites.

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Market Forces, Political Violence, and War

The End of Nation-States, the Rise of Ethnic and Global Sovereignties?

Caroline Ifeka

In the post–Cold War era, political violence associated with wars of gain is key to economic and political transformations across nation-states.1 Under the ‘Pax Americana’ multinational corporations interacting in ‘old boy’ networks of the global capitalist class control armaments, oil production, and cyberspace. Industrial and military multinationals as well as global financial institutions, are extending their decision-making structures while becoming more concentrated; 2 there is a “hyperconcentration of (unregulated) economic and military power” predominantly Euro-American (Virilio 1997: 99). Global militarization legitimized in discourses of ‘protecting freedom’ secures world oil and gas resources for Euro-American and Sinic industrial use, promotes corporate profits, and supports the post-2000 Pax Americana. The Pax’s ‘command and control’ system seeks to checkmate Muslim control of 60 percent of world crude oil supplies by destroying ‘rogue’ regimes and investing in multinational corporations exploiting oil, diamonds, coltan, and other (finite) industrial resources in non-Muslim controlled African states (Meacher 2003). Preparation for total war is economic war.

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Michael Humphrey and Andrew Davidson

Caroline Nordstrom and Antonious C. G. M. Robben, eds., Fieldwork Under Fire: Contemporary Studies of Violence and Survival (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 1995), 300 pp. ISBN 0-520-08994-4.

Michael Humphrey, The Politics of Atrocity and Reconciliation: From Terror to Trauma (London: Routledge, 2002), 192 pp. ISBN 0-415-27413-2.

Michael Taussig, The Magic of the State (New York: Routledge, 1997), 232 pp. ISBN 0-415-91790-5.

Robert Jay Lifton, Destroying the World to Save It: Aum Shinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence, and the New Global Terrorism (New York: Metropolitan Books, 1999), 376 pp. ISBN 0-8050-6511-3.

Samir Khalaf, Civil and Uncivil Violence in Lebanon: A History of the Internationalisation of Communal Conflict (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), 368 pp. ISBN 0-231-12476-7.

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Brian R. Ferguson

This article is a highly distilled summary of conclusions from three decades of research on war, involving examination of tribal societies, ancient states, recent civil wars, archaeology, biology and culture, and primatology. The key points are the following: (1) our species is not biologically destined for war; (2) war is not an inescapable part of social existence; (3) understanding war involves a nested hierarchy of constraints; (4) war expresses both pan-human practicalities and culturally specific values; (5) war shapes society to its own ends; (6) war exists in multiple contexts; (7) opponents are constructed in conflict; (8) war is a continuation of domestic politics by other means; (9) leaders favor war because war favors leaders; (10) peace is more than the absence of war. Each point is applied to the contemporary wars of the United States.

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Austerity against the Homo Sovieticus

Political control, class imaginings, and ethnic categorization in the Vilnius riots of 2009

Daiva Repečkait

This article analyzes the public discourse on the riots of 16 January 2009, in Vilnius, when protest against economic shock therapy ended in violent clashes with the police. Politicians and the media were quick to ethnicize the riots, claiming an “involvement of foreign influences” and noting that the rioters had been predominantly “Russian-speaking.” Analyzing electronic and print media, the article identifies a wider tendency, particularly among middle-class Lithuanian youth, of portraying the social class consisting of “losers of the post-soviet transition” as aggressive and primitive Others. A pseudo-ethnicity that combines Rus sian language and culture with lower-class background into a notion of homo sovieticus comes to stand for what is hindering the “clean up” of Lithuania and middleclass aspirations to form a new European identity. As such, the riots serve as a lens that illuminates the way ethnicity is flexibly utilized to shift political loyalties.

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Federico Finchelstein

Violence defines the global experience of fascism as an ideology, movement, and regime, as well as its subsequent reception after 1945. This article is part of this a transnational trend in the study of fascism examining such violence, but it also proposes to expand it by way of studying its transatlantic repercussions in the postwar period, especially in terms of what I call a “transcontextual history” of trauma and especially for the case of the so-called Argentine Dirty War. I argue there is a need for understanding these transnational dimensions of fascist violence for victims and perpetrators in light of an equally significant transcontextual emphasis on the traumatic fascist genealogies of the Cold War.

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Carolyn Nordstrom

An explosion in a war zone, no matter how localized and remote to the rest of the world, constitutes a crisis that has dangerous global repercussions. Using Alain Badiou's philosophy of multiplicities to track these repercussions, this article explores international profiteering and extra-legal commodities transfers; forced labor and enforced inequalities; dereliction in providing social, civil, and humanitarian services; and institutionalized injustices that coalesce in war and radiate worldwide. While the politics and economics of these systems of inequality seem to confer power on those who control them (generally, cosmopolitan industrial centers), this article suggests these are loci of vulnerability—`fracture zones'—that, under pressure (e.g., conflict, market crashes, natural disasters), leave even peacetime countries susceptible to collapse.

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Introduction

Approaching Perpetrators

Erin Jessee

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”

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Larry Busk

This article considers Sartre's perspective on political violence with reference to his 1948 play Dirty Hands. Focusing on the concrete political questions that confronted Sartre in his context, it traces the development and result of conversations with Merleau-Ponty, Camus and the Marxist tradition that shaped his thinking on this subject. At the end of this dialectical process, Sartre arrived at a position that refused both bourgeois humanism, with its disavowal of political violence, and what is here termed Official Communism – the prevailing Manichean politics of his day and the institutionalized repression that went along with it. In other words, he affirmed the violence of the political without by that token affirming the politics of violence. It is argued here that these conversations and this conclusion are dramatically illustrated in Dirty Hands.