Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Practice of War

The Practice of War: Production, Reproduction and Communication of Armed Violence

Aparna Rao
Michael Bollig
Monika Böck
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 366
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Practice of War
    Book Description:

    The fact is that war comes in many guises and its effects continue to be felt long after peace is proclaimed. This challenges the anthropologists who write of war as participant observers. Participant observation inevitably deals with the here and now, with the highly specific. It is only over the long view that one can begin to see the commonalities that emerge from the different forms of conflict and can begin to generalize.[From the Introduction]

    More needs to be understood about the ways of war and its effects. What implications does war have for people, their lived-in communities and larger political systems; how do they cope and adjust in war situations and how do they deal with the changed world that they inhabit once peace is declared? Through a series of essays that move from looking at the nature of violence to the peace processes that follow it, this important book provides some answers to these questions. It also analyzes those new dimensions of social interaction, such as the internet, which now provide a bridge between local concerns and global networks and are fundamentally altering the practices of war.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-059-3
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. List of Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  6. Introduction: The Practice of War
    (pp. 1-20)
    Elizabeth Colson

    When this workshop was proposed, none of us knew that war would so intimately involve us all by the time we met or that our attention would be so firmly focused on just what it means to frame events in terms of war. Terrible as what happened on 11 September was, I have pondered what might have happened if the American government had not immediately tried to frame the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as acts of war, and whether those who planned and implemented the attack could have done so if they had not framed...

  7. Part I: Changing Qualities of Violence:: Case Studies from Africa

    • Chapter 1 ‘We Turned our Enemies into Baboons’: Warfare, Ritual and Pastoral Identity Among the Pokot of Northern Kenya
      (pp. 23-52)
      Michael Bollig and Matthias Österle

      Northern Kenya has become an arena of excessively violent interactions between various local groups and external power groups such as army units and police patrols. The character of these conflicts is fairly uniform: usually violent interaction begins with livestock raids by one side, followed by counter-raids by the other side. Due to the escalation of raiding the government is frequently forced to step in with police and/or army units. In the past, violent interactions rarely resulted in drawn-out battles, but rather constituted skirmishes and sudden attacks. But during the 1990s the performance of violent conflicts changed completely: extremely violent clashes...

    • Chapter 2 Culture Slipping Away: Violence, Social Tension and Personal Drama in Suri Society, Southern Ethiopia
      (pp. 53-72)
      Jon Abbink

      In 1992 during fieldwork among the Chai-Suri people in Ethiopia, I witnessed a collective ritual held for raiders: armed Suri young men who were preparing to go to raid back cattle stolen from them by their southern neighbours, the Nyangatom, some months earlier. The ritual chief of the Chai led a protective blessing ceremony, lasting several hours. In the closing stages, one young man accidentally shot and killed one of his age mates with his automatic weapon. The perpetrator quickly fled to the bush, as is the custom. The ceremony was not concluded and the raid was called off.


    • Chapter 3 Catholics and Cannibals: Terror and Healing in Tooro, Western Uganda
      (pp. 73-86)
      Heike Behrend

      When in 1998 I came to Tooro in western Uganda, originally to do a study¹ on the re-establishment of the kingship, I was more than surprised to find people talk aboutabali babantu, man-eaters or cannibals. Women and men from all social classes, in towns as well as in rural areas, complained that cannibals were killing and eating their relatives, friends and neighbours. Cannibals had disappeared from Africanist anthropological discourse since the end of the 1970s; they had finally been discovered to be the stereotype of the Other. Europeans had accused Africans of being cannibals and, likewise, Africans thought Europeans...

  8. Part II: Memory, Trauma and Redemption

    • Chapter 4 Coming Through Slaughter: The Herero of Namibia, 1904–1940
      (pp. 89-110)
      Jan-Bart Gewald

      The Herero were a pastoral people living in south-western Africa. In 1904, under the leadership of Samuel Maharero, they became involved in a genocidal war against the armies of Imperial Germany. In the following four years an estimated 80 per cent of the Herero were killed. Of late a number of authors have sought to deny or at least downplay the genocide, and allow historical discussion to spiral into a demeaning and frankly meaningless debate about numbers. The debate was given new input by the publication, shortly before the independence of Namibia, of Brigitte Lau’s ‘Uncertain Certainties: The Herero–German...

    • Chapter 5 Trauma, Therapy and Responsibility: Psychology and War in Contemporary Israel
      (pp. 111-132)
      Edna Lomsky-Feder and Eyal Ben-Ari

      At the base of most scholarly studies of the impact of war lies a rather strong assumption about the nature of such an event. In these works, war is assumed to be a traumatic occurrence that has a host of negative and destructive implications. Given that the traumatic meaning of war is socially constructed, we seek to examine the central discourse by which this kind of meaning is created in present-day Israel. Our contention is that this traumatic–therapeutic discourse – one centring on trauma, suffering and therapy – provides a ready set of cultural models through which war and its effects...

    • Chapter 6 ‘I Shall be Waiting for You at the Door of Paradise’: The Pakistani Martyrs of the Lashkar-e Taiba (Army of the Pure)
      (pp. 133-158)
      Mariam Abou Zahab

      From the 1990s onwards, there has been a transformation in the discourse of the liberation struggle in Kashmir (Sikand 2001a). The early movement, which started in the 1930s and grew after Partition in the aftermath of the first war between India and Pakistan in 1948 over Kashmir, saw itself as a nationalist struggle for an independent state (Racine 2002). The main demand was that India should fulfil its commitment to the United Nations and allow a plebiscite, to enable the Kashmiri people to decide their own political future. These Kashmiri nationalists advocated a secular, democratic Jammu and Kashmir (Zutshi 2004)....

  9. Part III: Organizing, Encouraging and Dissuading:: The Uses of Kinship, Gender and Religion

    • Chapter 7 Is War Gendered? Issues in Representing Women and the Second World War
      (pp. 161-174)
      Elaine Martin

      Violent conflict, especially in the form of war is, and has always been, gendered. By gendered, I mean that male/female identity has existed as a category by which roles in war have been determined. As Gisela Bock has observed: ‘Gender refers not only to the relationship between sexual difference and similarity but also to sexual hierarchy and power’ (Bock 1998: 96). This is not to say that the roles of women and men in war have been static: quite the contrary. Yet gender issues have informed the changes as well as the maintenance of certain elements of the status quo....

    • Chapter 8 Judging by Aesthetics: ‘Due Care’ in the Management of ‘Collaboration’ in the First Palestinian Intifada
      (pp. 175-214)
      Iris Jean-Klein

      Concentrating on the First Palestinian Intifada (1987–91/92),¹ this essay treats a sphere of liberation activism which few studies address – handling ‘collaboration with the enemy’ in the running of such movements.² Although there are no precise figures – human rights watchdogs working in the area were aware but looked the other way, for the same reasons that anthropologists have averted their eyes – estimates by Palestinian academics and ‘civil society’ organizers (see below) indicate that hundreds of Palestinians, if not numbers in the four-digit range, were killed and injured by activists in this popular national uprising against Israeli occupation, in connection with...

    • Chapter 9 Islamist Militancy in Kashmir: The Case of the Lashkar-e Taiba
      (pp. 215-238)
      Yoginder Sikand

      The emergence of radical Islamist groups in Kashmir over the last decade has added a new dimension to the ongoing conflict in the region. It has led to a rapid transformation in the terms of discourse in which the conflict is represented, by India, by Pakistan and by many Kashmiris themselves. The current stage in the Kashmir conflict can be dated to 1989, when the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) inaugurated an armed uprising against Indian rule. By the mid-1990s, however, the JKLF had been increasingly taken over by Pakistan-based Islamist groups. The wiping out of many of its...

  10. Part IV: The Inscription of War in Mediated Worlds

    • Chapter 10 In the Combat Zone
      (pp. 241-252)
      Marilyn B. Young

      In the aftermath of U.S. victory in the first Gulf War, the first President George Bush was optimistic that the country had ‘kicked the Vietnam syndrome’. But the syndrome continued to manifest itself in the popular imagination of war. The Rambo series had tried to reverse the verdict of defeat, but it left standing the public conviction that Vietnam was not a good war. Despite a victory intended to vanquish the memory of Vietnam, the only notable movies made about Desert Storm –Courage Under Fire(1996) andThree Kings(1999) – were haunted by it. The first, in its insistence that post-Vietnam America...

    • Chapter 11 ‘Virtual’ Discourse and the Creation and Disruption of Social Networks: Observations on the War in Kashmir in Cyberspace
      (pp. 253-284)
      Aparna Rao, Monika Böck, Katharina Schneider and Michael Schnesgg

      Contemporary processes and forms of violent conflict and militarization are closely related to the development of colonialism, globalization and technological change. One of the issues addressed by the workshop at which a preliminary version of this chapter was presented related to the effects of-long-drawn out periods of armed violence on social organization. Notably, we asked, how does the social practice of individual and community bonding and networking change in war-torn societies? Obviously, any in-depth study of such behavioural change during actual periods of war is difficult, and it is even harder to ascertain the degree to which such change may...

    • Chapter 12 Martyrs, Victims, Friends and Foes: Internet Representations by Palestinian Islamists
      (pp. 285-304)
      Henner Kirchner

      Perceptions in the Western media about the Middle East conflict are increasingly determined by ‘real-life’ (often street) actions by militant Palestinian Islamic organizations such as the HAMAS or the so-called ² Islamic Jihad. But the actions of these organizations in cyberspace are not as well known and have not been studied by scholars. Following the events of 11 September 2001 the use of the Internet by radical Islamist groups did briefly move into the focus of a sensation-hungry public, but even here attention was drawn only to certain views disseminated through this medium. In sharp contrast to this, the parties...

    • Chapter 13 Mapping a Conflict in Cyberspace: Chiapas on the WWW
      (pp. 305-322)
      Julia Pauli and Michael Schnegg

      How is it possible that a seemingly small, locally bounded conflict has become internationally known and that the Zapatistas, one of its main actors, have received extensive global support? The amount of media attention the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional/Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), or Zapatistas for short, has stimulated over the last years is impressive. Several major U.S. newspapers, including theWashington Post(Robberson 1995),Newsweek(Watson 1995) and Time Magazine (McGirk 1999), have reported how ‘Mexican rebels [are] using a high-tech weapon’ (Robberson 1995) and are ‘wired for warfare’ (McGirk 1999).

      On 1 January 1994 the EZLN stormed and...

  11. Part V: Peace Building at the Crossroads:: Appropriations of War, Ambivalences of Interest

    • Chapter 14 Violence and Peace Processes
      (pp. 325-340)
      John Darby

      Most of the thirty-eight formal and comprehensive peace accords signed between 1988 and 1998 failed to last more than three years.¹ A ceasefire may initiate a peace process, but it never brings a complete end to violence. The word itself acknowledges that there has been a truce rather than a surrender, and that neither side has abandoned the option of returning to the use of force. At best, a ceasefire may trigger a peace process, which, if completed successfully, will allow violence to diminish and return to forms that can be handled by normal policing and legal procedures. A major...

  12. Index
    (pp. 341-346)