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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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War without Citizens

Memorialization, War, and Democracy in the United States

Stephen J. Rosow

Contestation over war memorialization can help democratic theory respond to the current attenuation of citizenship in war in liberal democratic states, especially the United States. As war involves more advanced technologies and fewer soldiers, the relation of citizenship to war changes. In this context war memorialization plays a particular role in refiguring the relation. Current practices of remembering and memorializing war in contemporary neoliberal states respond to a dilemma: the state needs to justify and garner support for continual wars while distancing citizenship from participation. The result is a consumer culture of memorialization that seeks to effect a unity of the political community while it fights wars with few citizens and devalues the public. Neoliberal wars fought with few soldiers and an economic logic reveals the vulnerability to otherness that leads to more active and critical democratic citizenship.

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War, Politics and Race

Reflections on Violence in the 'War on Terror'

Saul Newman and Michael P. Levine

The authors argue that the 'war on terror' marks the ultimate convergence of war with politics, and the virtual collapse of any meaningful distinction between them. Not only does it signify the breakdown of international relations norms but also the militarization of internal life and political discourse. They explore the 'genealogy' of this situation firstly through the notion of the 'state of exception'—in which sovereign violence becomes indistinct from the law that is supposed to curtail it—and secondly through Foucault's idea that politics is essentially a form of warfare. They suggest that these two ways of approaching the question of violence can only be understood through a racist dimension, which forms the hidden underside of the 'war on terrorism'. In other words, our contemporary situation is characterized by the mobilization not only of fundamentalist and conservative ideologies, but, increasingly, racial antagonisms and prejudices directed towards the Muslim other.

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Telling Her Story of War

Challenging Gender Bias at Culloden Battle eld Visitor Centre

Nicole Deufel

When live interpretation of women was first introduced at Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre, it received little visitor interest and mixed reactions despite the key roles that women played during the 1745 Jacobite Rising. Consequent experiences with changes to the interpretation suggest that visitors' prior identification of wars with men makes them regard women's interpretation as irrelevant to the war story they came to learn. It appears that interpretation that mixes the stories of men and women can ensure visitors' engagement with interpretation of women at war while at the same time enhancing visitors' ability to personally connect with the interpretive content overall.

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The Past and Present War

Political Cartoons and the Memory of the First World War in Britain

Ross J. Wilson

This article examines the image of the First World War in British political cartoons, from the aftermath of the conflict to the present day, as an active process of remembrance. Through an analysis of cartoons in newspapers and periodicals in Britain, this study assesses how a distinct vision of the war is formed within society as a means of addressing contemporary concerns beyond the events of 1914–1918. The use of such war imagery in television, film and fiction has been recently critiqued by scholars who have lamented the way in which this popular memory obscures the history of the conflict. However, a study of political cartoons reveals that rather than constituting a cliché, specific representations of the war, namely the image of the battlefields, the trenches and suffering soldiers, acquire new meanings and constitute a dynamic process of remembrance which uses the past to critique and assess the present.

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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.

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Irène Eulriet

This article is concerned with Durkheimian sociology’s problematization of war. Such concern is rooted in an appraisal of contemporary social scientific approaches to war and the military, particularly in the recognition that sociology has largely left these issues unexplored. I first attempt to situate the Durkheimian legacy in the current social scientific landscape of war and military studies, especially with regard to research conducted in France and the United States. I then argue, on the basis of Durkheim’s late writings, that he was not altogether oblivious to questions pertaining to the military and war; and that the way in which he addressed these issues was not just, as is often claimed, in a jingoistic mode. This article instead points towards the original analyses that Durkheim provided on the basis of concepts he had developed as early as in the Division of Labour and the centrality of the notion of ‘solidarity’ in his approach.

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Seth B. Scott

American history textbooks, for the better part of the twentieth century, have focused on war as the primary actor. This article investigates the pervasiveness of war in textbooks and considers the e ect of such on students and their role as future policymakers. In the past decade, history textbooks have undergone a total transition toward an emphasis on social history. An examination of what this entails, and what impacts this may have on schoolchildren and society as a whole, lends insight into the e ects the study of history can have. Finally, I argue that a historian must not only choose events that illustrate the past, but also determine how those choices may a ect the future.

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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.

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Lesley Gill

Low-intensity conflicts, counter-insurgencies, and the so-called war on terror blur the boundaries between war and peace and, in doing so, collapse the distinctions between combatants and non-combatants. Scholars have used concepts such as `routinization of terror', `culture of fear', and `banalization of violence' to describe how fear regulates social life in places of extreme instability. These concepts often paint an overgeneralized portrait of violence that fails to examine the social relationships and institutional forms that give rise to terror and insecurity. This article examines the shifting qualities of war and peace in Colombia and argues that daily life in Barrancabermeja—a working-class city nominally `at peace' after a government-backed, paramilitary demobilization process—is a volatile arena of uncertainty in which some people are more vulnerable than others.