Violence and the state

Tormod Sund (University of Tromsø)
Bjørn Enge Bertelsen (University of Bergen)
Wills 3.30
Start time:
19 September, 2006 at 11:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This workshop intends to explore theoretical and methodological of doing anthropological research on the relations between violence and the state in Europe and beyond.

Long abstract:

The intimate relationship between violence and the state has been central to political philosophy discourse since Hobbes alleged the necessity of a central power securing a monopoly on violence to prevent a 'warre of all against all'. Within anthropology a central focus in the research on violence has been the group dynamics of violent behaviour, with a strong emphasis on the instrumental qualities of violence as a means to gain power and control over scarce resources. However, newer research has criticised such purely instrumental theoretical approaches and has suggested both the need to go beyond the group dynamics and the necessity of including the state in an analysis of violence. Beyond the shift of focus and level to include the state, these newer takes also include the importance of dimensions of meaning in relation to violence, the violence of sovereignty, the symbolic dimensions of violence etc.. These perspectives, and the relationships between violence and the state such as terrorism, insurgencies, rebellions, death squads, repressive regimes and war, have increasingly caught the attention of anthropologists during the recent decades. This workshop wishes to address complexities and challenges related to anthropological research on violence within a state context. We are interested in empirically based contributions that explore different ways of understanding the relations between violence and the state anthropologically and theoretically. For example, how can we anthropologically adequately deal with the local, regional and global dimensions of relationships between violence and the state? How should we address serious challenges in relation to the ethics and politics of research on violence in state contexts?