More than three years after the murder and kidnapping of students of the Normal Rural School Isidro Burgos of Ayotzinapa on 26 September 2014, a coherent and truthful explanation of what happened still needs to be determined. The logistics and decision-making processes put in place before, during, and after the attack raise questions about the nature of the Mexican state, its institutions, and its order/execution chain, as well as the character of the actors involved. Starting from this paradigmatic case, the aim of this article is to examine the current increase in violence in Mexico. The analysis takes into account the dispersed ‘clusters of power’—actual war machines—that have been developing in a situation of social and political decomposition brought about by a new cycle of capitalist expansion and accumulation.
The Case of Ayotzinapa
The Office of Strategic Services' 1943 'Preliminary Report on Japanese Anthropology'
David H. Price
More than two dozen U.S. anthropologists worked for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during the Second World War. Some anthropologists at the OSS's Research and Analysis Branch analysed information on Japanese culture and tracked shifts in Japanese morale to estimate the best ways of employing psychological warfare. Among the papers produced by these anthropologists was a 1943 'Preliminary Report on Japanese Anthropology' which included the contemplation of biological warfare programmes using anthrax and other weapons of mass destruction on Japanese civilian and military populations. This article summarizes and critiques the roles of American anthropology in designing and opposing various programmes directed against Japanese soldiers and civilians under consideration at the OSS.
Asymmetrical Warfare: Today’s Challenge to U.S. Military Power, by Roger W. Barnett. Washington DC: Brasseys Inc., 2003. ISBN 1574885634.
Humane Warfare, by Christopher Coker. London: Routledge, 2001. ISBN 0415255767.
The Heart of War: On Power, Conflict and Obligation in the Twenty- First Century, by Gwyn Prins. London: Routledge, 2002. ISBN 0415369606.
A Means to Socialize by Acquiring Invulnerability, Authority, and Spiritual Improvement
Jean-Marc de Grave
Kanuragan is a secret ritual initiation tied to local cosmological practices and cults used by the Javanese as a source of self-help on issues related to health, welfare, and protection. At basic levels, the practitioners of kanuragan use special entities called aji to gain strength and invulnerability. At the next level, the teaching of the master involves a specific mystical knowledge tied to the acquisition of spiritual authority. This article describes the process of transmission, the persons involved, and the role that kanuragan plays in Javanese society for security purposes and in warfare. The analysis shows how kanuragan competes with new secular and religious systems of value as well as with sorcery and new embodied practices such as sports competitions, to provide comparative insights on the formation of social categories.
Warfare was widespread in classical India. Although the Buddhists of India abhorred killing, they could not evade or ignore war altogether. From the seventh century to the thirteenth century, various types of war magic, together with justifications for their use, developed in tantric Buddhist communities. Defensive types of war magic adhered to pacifist ethics and aimed to avoid, halt, or disperse armies. Harmful war magic was applied in the context of the transcendent ethics of enlightenment. Even when warfare was fully incorporated into Buddhist soteriology, non-violence remained a paramount virtue, and the scope of a just war was very limited. The present survey of tantric sources shows that tantric Buddhist war magic emerged as a reaction to the inevitability of war and was applied in the hope of mitigating warfare's excesses.
Chamorro Spiritual Resistance to Colonial Domination
D. S. Farrer and James D. Sellmann
The Chamorro people inhabit an archipelago known as the Mariana Islands located in the western Pacific Ocean. Seventeenth-century Chamorros took ancestral skulls into warfare against the Spanish in the period of the Spanish conquest. The possession of such skulls manifested profound symbolic power. In the aftermath of the war, the survivors converted to Catholicism, amalgamating their ancient religious practices with that faith. Resistance through the centuries against Spanish, Japanese, and American colonial power has been anchored in Chamorro cultural continuity, albeit in an ostensibly fragmented and augmented form. A site of strategic US military bases, Guam now anticipates further military build-up. War magic and warrior religion are lenses that enable the study of colonial domination where the battle lines fault across military, economic, and political frames toward cultural fronts.
The Digital Age Opens Up New Terrains for Peace and Conflict Research
Josepha Ivanka Wessels
The arrival of the Digital Age added a new way to preserve memories of war and conflict. These developments beg deeper reflection on the role of cyberspace and how memories of conflict have become publicly and collectively owned, shared and mediated in the digital space. Cyberspace offers a context for the deposit of digital memorials for victims and casualties of war from any adversary in a conflict. The final workshop in a three-part exploratory series entitled Virtual Zones of Peace and Conflict is the basis for this special section, which deals with digital memory. The three articles were selected because they reflect on the role of the Digital Age in peace and conflict studies, and specifically focus on the intersection between online (virtual) and offline (physical) realities and how cyberspace forms an enabling environment for digital memorializations.
Cross-Cultural Articulations of War Magic and Warrior Religion
D. S. Farrer
Previous anthropology emphasized symbolic incantations at the expense of the embodied practice of magic. Foregrounding embodiment and performance in war magic and warrior religion collapses the mind-body dualism of magic versus rationality, instead highlighting social action, innovation, and the revitalization of tradition, as tempered historically by colonial and post-colonial trajectories in societies undergoing rapid social transformation. Religion and magic are re-evaluated from the perspective of the practitioner's and the victim's embodiment in their experiential life-worlds via articles discussing Chinese exorcists, Javanese spirit siblings, Sumatran black magic, Tamil Tiger suicide bombers, Chamorro spiritual re-enchantment, tantric Buddhist war magic, and Yanomami dark shamans. Central themes include violence and healing, accomplished through ritual and performance, to unleash and/or control the power of gods, demons, ghosts and the dead.
Mordechai Bar-On, Moshe Dayan: Israel’s Controversial Hero (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012), 247 pp.
Stuart Cohen, Divine Service? Judaism and Israel’s Armed Forces (Burlington: Ashgate Publishing, 2013), 201 pp.
Yagil Levy, Israel’s Death Hierarchy: Casualty Aversion in a Militarized Democracy (Warfare and Culture) (New York: New York University Press, 2012), 269 pp.
Gabriel Sheffer and Oren Barak, Israel’s Security Networks: A Theoretical and Comparative Perspective (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 184 pp.
The case of a remote tribal village in southwest Iran demonstrates the circumstances conducive to positive rural development. My research suggests that since the founding of this village around 1880, its people - led by a progressive, literate young chief - successfully defended their realm against incorporation into the neighbouring chiefs' reigns of lawlessness and warfare; introduced and modernised irrigation agriculture and fruit cultivation then unique in the whole region; and embraced formal education. Discussing such adaptive strategies, I argue that a strong ethos of progress and achievement, including civic awareness, motivated local people from the beginning to pursue new ways to improve their livelihood.