EASA, 2008: EASA08: Experiencing diversity and mutuality

Ljubljana, 26/08/2008 – 29/08/2008


Connecting peace and violence: zones, transgressions and causes

Location 410
Date and Start Time 27 Aug, 2008 at 09:00


Ronald Stade (Malmö University) email
Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

This panel investigates continuities and discontinuities between global zones of violence and peace. Social fantasies of the nation as a secure home threatened by violence from within ("minorities") and without ("terrorism"), as well as global connections between peace and violence through migration, the media, ideological diffusion, the arms trade, networks of profiteering, military globalization, etc, will be brought up for discussion.

Long Abstract

The level of violence and insecurity is higher in some places than in others. In one sense, we live in a global landscape that is divided into war zones and zones of peace. At closer inspection, this division turns out to be problematic and a more continuous landscape emerges. The various global zones are connected with one another through migration, the media, ideological diffusion, the arms trade, networks of profiteering, military globalization and so on. Peace and violence may also be causally connected in that peace may be achieved through violence and violence in one place relies on peace in another. Culturally, the dream of peace, security and social justice depends on the exorcism of violence. The nation may be made out to be a secure home threatened by violent intruders (e.g. Hage 1998). Such fantasies are interlaced with images of civilization and barbarism at the global level and anxieties about minorities ("potential terrorists") in the national and local context (e.g. Appadurai 2006). The questions we want to explore in this workshop concern the differences and connections between peace and violence: how is the difference between peace and violence created and imagined? What are the historical, conceptual and social connections between peace and violence? Are peace and violence mutually exclusive notions?

Chair: Ronald Stade


Governing social relations internationally: the legal management of conflict

Author: Yael Navaro-Yashin (Cambridge University)  email
Mail All Authors

Long Abstract

This paper ethnographically studies 'conflict resolution' initiatives in Cyprus led by the United Nations and other international bodies. Involving both 'local' and 'global' actors as agents operating on the same plane, conflict resolution projects and 'bi-communal' initiatives have been considered and enstaged as models of and for social relations among Turkish- and Greek-Cypriots in a future-projected peace. This paper studies this performance of social relations in bi-communal gatherings among activists from members of communities deemed to be 'in conflict' with one another. It then studies the Annan Plan proposed by the United Nations for the resolution of the Cyprus problem. Conclusions are drawn about the management and legal codification of 'local' social relations on a 'global'/international scale.

Zones of peace and violence or a general state of exception?

Author: Urania Astrinaki (Panteion University)  email
Mail All Authors

Long Abstract

'Peace' and 'violence' constitute hegemonic modern (Western?) ideas and phantasies which are embedded in our very thinking of the social. Intertwined with images of civilisation and barbarism, they have become a fundamental tool-kit in othering non-Western societies up to the present, in their representation as sites of violence, Western societies being defined thereby as sites of peace. Although explicit zoning of violence and peace has not gained much currency in anthropology, a manifest tendency to focus on violence in its outstanding material occurences in non-Western contexts implicitly hints at that direction. At the same time, although several strands of social theory come to question this divide, and many anthropological studies document the blurring of boundaries between peace and violence in many contexts, it seems hard to integrate them in the same frame of analysis and to conceive of violence as an aspect of the social.

In this paper then, I will argue that the dichotomy violence-peace entraps our thought, leading to reproduction and legitimation of hegemonic ideas about the social order, and about violence itself, and that dismantling it is a prerequisite for grasping the complexities of contemporary social realities. Arguing for a shift of focus to the less impressive and perceptible manifestations of violence as a way to unravel its permanent presence in all societies, including the 'peaceful' West, I will suggest that cultural specificities of violence notwithstanding, Benjamin's and Agamben's 'state of exception' may prove an inspiring framework for this integration in the contemporary world.

Interactions and ambiguity of notions of war and peace in a colonial context

Author: Caterina Miele  email
Mail All Authors

Long Abstract

This paper looks at the complex interactions of cultural meanings of peace and war in a colonial context where peace is represented both as the result of the war and as a continuation of the war. In the "pacified" Libyan colony (1932 - 1943), on the one hand, the conquest and subsequent use of violence was proclaimed to have come to a conclusion, while on the other hand, the colonizers were assigned the task of continuing the colonial war against "barbarity", on a different level. In this phase, the affirmation of colonial rule and the search for stability was pursued via the progressive imposition of a political, economic and cultural order. This paper sustains the hypothesis that, in a settlement colony, the level of peace and security depends not only on the capacity of colonial authorities to overcome the resistance of the local population, but also on the subjection of the colonizers as agents of the Empire. Language, symbols and practices adopted by Italian colonizers in land reclamation and agricultural colonization, foreshadowed the beginning of a phase of colonial violence, whose object was no longer the "Colonized" but rather Nature and the territory of the colony. Based on colonial texts, autobiographies and interviews with Italian ex-colonizers, this paper underlines that in a colonial context, although the notions of peace and war are presented as being mutually exclusive in official discourses, in reality, the construction of peace is the continuation of war via other means and with other subject matters.

Potentia and presentia: on the dynamics of peace and conflict in Bissau

Author: Henrik Vigh (University of Copenhagen)  email
Mail All Authors

Long Abstract

This paper focuses on conflict as potentia and presentia in Bissau, West Africa. It shows how conflict is perceived as a constantly present social condition and illuminates how war is understood as the manifestation of this underlying bellicose potential. War and peace are not sequential but coexisting political modalities in Bissau. Rather than being a normal state of affairs calm is seen as the uncertain period between turbulence. Focusing on the experiential effects of inhabiting such chronically unstable environments the paper examines how young combatants internalise the tumultuous social situation into negative self images. It illuminates how they have come to envision themselves as bearers of socially destructive potentials, rather than the unfortunate inhabitants of zones of prolonged conflict and scarcity, and dwells on the consequences of this negative social imaginary.

Developing Africa and Europe: the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda and the war/peace business in the global shadows

Author: Sverker Finnstrom (Uppsala University)  email
Mail All Authors

Long Abstract

Uganda: The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and Africa's longest running war. For some two decades, the war has rolled back and forth, like the changes from rainy season to dry season and back to rainy season. Even more, increasingly becoming a global project, perhaps the business of war is now slowly turning into an equally lucrative peace business. In this presentation I argue that the two concepts of peace and war are not absolute categories. Rather they represent quotidian moments along a lived and at times very uncertain continuum. In both peace and war life is continuously constituted and reconstituted in the search for a balance between the existential and the political, the local and the global, and the past and the future. At the same time, the Ugandan war/peace reality expands in time and space, violently connecting Africa with Europe (or vice versa). The massive influx of international aid has ended up being deeply entangled with local war realities. The US government included the LRA on its post-9/11 list of global terrorist groups when the Ugandan government joined the global war on terror. The rebel leadership is wanted by the International Criminal Court. This expansion in time and space, the presentation argues, exemplifies the painful and often violent emplacement of emerging and merging global war/peace realities. The presentation builds on recurrent fieldwork in war-torn Uganda, starting from 1997, combined with research carried out with the Ugandan diaspora in Europe.