EASA2014: Collaboration, Intimacy & Revolution


The massacre and its intimacy: violence among neighbors

Location T-304
Date and Start Time 02 August, 2014 at 09:00


Alexander Horstmann (Tallinn University) email
Lyndsay McLean Hilker (University of Sussex) email
Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

The panel probes into the intimacy of violence among neighbors. It asks about the involvement and situational context of local members , the organization, building up and in the spread of hate as well as the reflection about the violence and the living with its consequences.

Long Abstract

This panel builds on a European scholarly network that is concerned with emphatic violence and emotions, violence and intimacy and enmeshed with PACSA and the PACSA journal, Conflict and Society. Intimacy here stands for social knowledge, memory and informal law among neighbors who know each other intimately. Intimacy is located at the intersections of private lives and public institutions and the power relations between them. The crucial aspect of intimacy is the embodiment of the violence and processes in which private lives such as inter-marriage are politicized and become the object of hate mobilization in spectacular forms. The panel invites contributions about the responses of neighbors to the violence and how local actors talk about it. The theoretical concept of situationalism is used to see how people believe that they are caught in situations and have to react to it. It is hoped that this concept helps us to avoid essentialist explanations of violence as a result of unavoidable or long-lasting resentments.

The panel is taking into account how the situations of the massacre are politically instigated, mobilized and the political interests driving the violence and how the violence is mediated to make a symbolic impact on the audience. Using the concept of mediation, attention is given to the media transporting the violence and advertizing for it, such as rumor and in particular the use of social media, like yutube and facebook etc.as well as fake letters.

Chair: Alexander Horstmann, Lyndsay McLean Hilker
Discussant: Alexander Horstmann, Lyndsay McLean Hilker

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Frontstage ethics: preventing violence through modification of perception

Author: Petar Bagarić (Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research)  email

Short Abstract

By avoiding the objectifying perception of the Other, the phenomenological ethics are trying to evade the possibility of violence, and are therefore introducing the concept of caring for the Other as a foundation of morality.

Long Abstract

Cartesian dualistic confronting of subject and object has been, among other reasons, criticized as an oppressive reduction of the Other to just another object of perception. By recognizing Cartesian dualism, which divides the world into active awareness-bearers and objects of their perception, as a foundation of violence, phenomenologically inspired ethics are trying to suggest certain forms of perception by which the taboo of objectification should be avoided. That is why phenomenological ethics are insisting on the founding of subject through concept of intersubjectivity, which defines the subject not by its relation to the object, but by its appearance among other subjects. The firm line between inner and outer realm, which once helped the objectification of external phenomena, and which strengthened the traditional subject, is abandoned in favor of the common being in the world, which evokes images of organic, symbiotic interconnection of human subjects (compare Merleau-Ponty 1990, Nancy 2003). In order to actualize this new, embodied subject through its relation with the Other in the social realm, it was necessary to promote new values, such are nearness and grooming (Piper and Stronach 2008). Unfortunately, radical ethics of caring for the Other, most adequately metaforized in Heidegger's shepherd of being, does not essentially hinder the possibility of violence as much as it, as argued by Ron Broglio (2008), simply moves it offstage.

Hate mobilisations and anti-Muslim violence in Southern Thailand and Burma

Author: Alexander Horstmann (Tallinn University)  email

Short Abstract

The paper examines the role of hate propaganda, racism and intimate violence in Southern Thailand and in Myanmar and offers some generalisations on rumour, proaganda and hate crimes.

Long Abstract

In this paper, I build on ethnographic long-term fieldwork in Southern Thailand and recent work in Mynamar to explain and analyze theoretically the significance of hate propaganda for the internal acceptance of massaker and hate crime. I discuss changing relations of Buddhist majorities and Muslim minorities in Southern Thailand and in Myanmar and how ultranationalist Theravada groups mobilise hatred and resentments against Muslims in both contexts which helps to legitimize violence.

From these findings, the paper addresses some larger issues on intimacy and violence and the involvement of locals in the preparation of violence. The paper argues that hate campaigns are fairly successful in mobilising hatred and animosity in the local arena and help to escalate the situation.

How "ethnicity" mattered during the Rwandan genocide: understanding the participation in and intimacy of the violence

Author: Lyndsay McLean Hilker (University of Sussex)  email

Short Abstract

This paper re-considers how “ethnicity” mattered during the Rwandan genocide. It argues that the specific way the categories “Hutu” and “Tutsi” were constructed in Rwanda can help to explain the significant civilian participation in the violence, as well as its intimate and sometimes brutal nature.

Long Abstract

This paper engages with longstanding debates about the role of "ethnicity" in the production of "ethnic" violence by re-considering how ethnicity mattered during the Rwandan genocide. Although the genocide resulted from a complex culmination of factors, it argues that the specific way the categories "Hutu" and "Tutsi" were constructed over time in Rwanda was significant and can help to explain some of the more troubling aspects of the genocide - in particular the significant levels of civilian participation in the violence, the killing of social intimates, and the brutality of some of the killing. Drawing on a range of theoretical and comparative material, the paper highlights five ways in which ethnicity mattered during the Rwanda genocide. Firstly, the definition of the enemy as "ethnic" was significant given the imprecise, malleable meanings of "ethnicity". Secondly, the genocidal propaganda reworked various pre-existing, potent "ethnic" myths and narratives about the characteristics of and differences between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda. Thirdly, the "ethnic" discourse used in the lead up to and during the genocide specifically invoked fear and a sense of victimhood among the Hutu population. Fourthly, the precise nature of the "ethnic" stereotypes deployed mattered- especially the notion of accomplices (ibyitso) that had infiltrated Rwanda society that created paranoia. Finally, there was a critical gap between the "conceptual" Tutsi constructed through "ethnic" discourse and the "concrete" Tutsis of people's everyday social words, which intensified the sense of uncertainty and made the killing of social intimates both thinkable and doable.

How to study a massacre? A methodological discussion

Author: Philipp Naucke (Philipps-Universität Marburg)  email

Short Abstract

Based on a study of a massacre in a Mayan village perpetrated by the Guatemalan Army in 1982, this paper discuss methodological problems of investigating mass violence that took place in the past. What are the limitations of methods like testimonies etc. and what could be an additional approach?

Long Abstract

Given the presence of multidisciplinary debates on Transitional Justice and how different societies come to terms with their violent past, which is evidenced by a high number of publications on the issue, it is surprising that methodological proposals for the refurbishment of politically motivated violence are relatively rare. Even most of the anthropological studies about concrete acts of violence do not go beyond interviews and testimonies.

Frustrated by these methods in my own research, this paper aims to frame the limitations of interviews and testimonies as methodological tools to capture such a complex phenomena like a massacre. Based on a case study of a massacre in a Mayan village perpetrated by the army of Guatemala in 1982, I found it impossible to get a clear picture of what happened 30 years ago, the very particular historical and local context in which it took place, the multiple ways in which the massacre was experienced and the variety of relationships between the people involved in it.

This paper proposes a reconstructive approach to the study of massacres, which does not want to replace interviews and testimonies but like to offer an additional tool by emphasizing methodologically the relationship between place and memory as well as the collective character of the experience and the historical process of which the massacre is part of. At this point, it does not exemplify a highly elaborated methodological tool, but can rather be considered a methodological attempt that should be developed further.

working through memories of post-2008 political violence in Southern Zimbabwe

Author: Edmore Chitukutuku (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg)  email

Short Abstract

Political violence suffered by people in Southern Zimbabwe has affected their intimate relationships and how these intimate relationships such as kinship ties have been the target and cause for targeted violence by individuals. People used the media technology such as DVDs,CDs and WhatsApp and Facebook.

Long Abstract

This research took an ethnographic view in understanding the complexities of the violence that happened in Bikita district in 2008. The study looked at how the people in the district are grappling with the effects which this violence had on their everyday lives. I argue that violence at the elections caught ordinary people up in its work both as perpetrators and victims and this required sophisticated everyday responses and this research looked at how people respondent to this violence. The cultural norm is that people should be silent about their traumatic experiences in public. Intimate relationships and the social fibre have been broken and people no longer trust each other, as this violence was meted against neighbours by neighbours. People took advantage of the existence of youth militias to settle existing personal grudges and jealous against each other by labelling those they hate as sell-outs, especially in extended family set-ups. In the midst of silence there are many ways people use to talk to each other about their experiences. In the absence of state intervention on healing of trauma, communities have engaged with less expensive but effective strategies to deal with the trauma of political violence. People have used media such as Facebook and recently WhatsApp to share their experiences with others across the country. They also exchange protest music through CDs, tapes and DVDs and cell phones as a way of talking to each other to cope with the effects of violence.

'We are born in their struggle and they live in ours' (H.I.J.O.S.): trans-generational memory and political identity in post-genocide Argentina

Author: Katja Seidel (Max Planck Institute Halle)  email

Short Abstract

This paper discusses how, with a representation of the past as genocide, H.I.J.O.S.’ trans-generational practices of justice intimately produce their collective belonging in Argentina’s contested space of memory.

Long Abstract

This paper discusses H.I.J.O.S.' (Children for Identity and Justice against Oblivion and Silence) political agency in connection with an understanding and historical narrative re-construction of the 1976-83 dictatorship as genocide. With their activism during the Escrache - H.I.J.O.S.' practice of social condemnation - and in the current trials for crimes against humanity, the post-terror generation demonstrates why the violent past counts as genocide. In this symbolic, discursive, and legal space of justice members of H.I.J.O.S. strive to recover their disappeared parents' political identity and relate their own belonging. In this personal but contested production of memory narratives in Argentina, agents from the second generation reclaim historical ownership of justice and resistance. Their practice of justice as a trans-generational project leaves little room for grey zones, making the critical anthropological encounter all the more challenging.

Based on anthropological fieldwork with the post-dictatorial generation in both Argentina and Madrid the author argues that H.I.J.O.S.' persistence in striving for legal punishment of all state related perpetrators and acknowledgement of their parents' political subjectivity is an intimate process in which political subjectivities turn agents into a kin-like political group. Discussing the trans-generational 'Culture of Justice' the article hence reorients the study of violence away from collective trauma to analysing genocide's productive quality for (recovered) identity little discussed in anthropological literature so far.

Intimate encounters with military officials on trial: understanding military subjectivities and the ethics of fieldwork in post transitional justice Argentina

Author: Eva van Roekel (Utrecht University)  email

Short Abstract

The paper on intimate encounters in post transitional Argentina has a twofold aim: to explore hazards of researching the feeling lives of alleged perpetrators and give insights in their local moral worlds that shape alternative interpretations of accountability and experiences of justice.

Long Abstract

Understanding situated experiences of retributive justice after state violence require ethnographic explorations in order to unlock different co-existing moralities regarding justice, also those of alleged perpetrators. Hence this panel paper has a twofold aim: to explore the methodological and ethical hazards of researching indicted military officials' subjectivities and, simultaneously give insight in their transformative local moral worlds that shape alternative interpretations of accountability and experiences of justice.

Firstly, I dedicate a section in this paper to the issue about alternative methodologies and ethics of doing fieldwork in a high-stakes environment with people who are alleged for crimes against humanity. Methodologically this paper reflects on the intersubjective engagement between informant and fieldworker with special emphasis on the moral and emotional dimensions of these personal encounters associated with violence and justice. This discloses the ethical hazards of doing fieldwork with people who are considered criminal, or even evil, by local agents and a broader academic sphere.

Secondly, without falling into apologetic analyses, this paper offers nuanced insights in the lived experiences of the trials by indicted or loyal military officials. Their experiences regarding the crimes committed during the last dictatorship are explored by means of two empirical feelings: remorse and shame. Based on eighteen months of fieldwork, this paper concentrates specifically on data gathered from in-depth interviews and participatory observations with officials at court, prison and their homes, and documentation on local military ethical codes and educational handbooks.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.