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Crisis of the State

Crisis of the State: War and Social Upheaval

Bruce Kapferer
Bjørn Enge Bertelsen
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 338
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  • Book Info
    Crisis of the State
    Book Description:

    Analyzing both historical contexts and geographical locations, this volume explores the continuous reformation of state power and its potential in situations of violent conflict. The state, otherwise understood as an abstract and transcendent concept in many works on globalization in political philosophy, is instead located and analyzed here as an embedded part of lived reality. This relationship to the state is exposed as an integral factor to the formation of the social - whether in Africa, the Middle East, South America or the United States. Through the examination of these particular empirical settings of war or war-like situations, the book further argues for the continued importance of the state in shifting social and political circumstances. In doing so, the authors provide a critical contribution to debates within a broad spectrum of fields that are concerned with the future of the state, the nature of sovereignty, and globalization.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-909-3
    Subjects: Anthropology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Introduction: The Crisis of Power and Reformations of the State in Globalizing Realities
    (pp. 1-26)
    Bruce Kapferer and Bjørn Enge Bertelsen

    The essays in this volume explore situations of civil strife, violent resistance and war in the circumstances of shifts in the organization of state power and the emergence of new forms of sovereignty. The specific empirical contexts analyzed are those in which the agents and organs of state power are effectively at war with the populations over whom they claim control. In these situations the character of particular state orders, the nature of sovereignty and the manner of their legitimacy are thrown into relief. These are major concerns of the arguments presented here which are alive to the fact that...

  6. Section I. Transformations of Sovereignty, Empire, State

    • Chapter One The Military-Industrial Complex and the Crisis of U.S. Capital
      (pp. 29-52)
      June Nash

      The U.S. launching of a preemptive strike against Iraq has revitalized the military-industrial complex during the presidency of George W. Bush. The privatization of services, including military combat in a continuing war against terrorism throughout the world, now threatens the hegemonic accord among communities, corporations, and the military. Rising military costs and spiraling fees for private armed contractors serving military, diplomatic, and development programs compete with shrinking budgets for social welfare within the United States, where outsourcing of jobs has severely weakened the domestic economy. The collapse of financial markets in October 2008 has precipitated a decline in commodity market,...

    • Chapter Two Post-Soviet Formation of the Russian State and the War in Chechnya: Exploring the Chaotic Form of Sovereignty
      (pp. 53-82)
      Jakob Rigi

      In this chapter I will analyze the relationship between state and war in Chechnya.¹ The relation between the Chechen war and state is a complex one. Three major aspects of such a relation are to be noted. First, the formation of the Soviet multinational state and its nationality policy and the place of Chechnya in the topography of the Soviet state, the particular experience of Chechen nationality, and the late Soviet crisis of the state constitute the historical context, if not the immediate causes, of the Chechen war. Second, one of the major factors that contributed to the outbreak of...

    • Chapter Three Market Forces, Political Violence, and War: The End of Nation-States, the Rise of Ethnic and Global Sovereignties?
      (pp. 83-94)
      Caroline Ifeka

      In the post–Cold War era, political violence associated with wars of gain is key to economic and political transformations across nation states.¹ Under the “Pax Americana,” multinational corporations interacting in “old boy” networks of the global capitalist class control armaments, oil production, and cyberspace. Industrial and military multinationals, as well as global financial institutions, are extending their decision-making structures while becoming more concentrated²; there is a “hyper concentration” of (unregulated) economic and military power, predominantly Euro-American (Virilio and Lotringer 1997:99). Global militarization legitimized in discourses of “protecting freedom” secures world oil and gas resources for Euro-American and Sinic industrial...

  7. Section II. War Zone

    • Chapter Four Rebel Ravages in Bundibugyo, Uganda’s Forgotten District
      (pp. 97-123)
      Kirsten Alnaes

      On 13 November 1996 rebels belonging to ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) entered Uganda from then Zaire¹ and attacked Mpondwe and Karambi in Kasese district at the southern end of the Rwenzori massif in western Uganda. The attack was unexpected, including for the military platoon stationed there. An unequal battle ensued that ended with deaths in the UPDF (Uganda Peoples Defence Force), the population, and among the rebels. After a while, however, the rebels who had not been captured or killed were believed to have withdrawn into the Rwenzori mountains. At the time I was staying in Bundibugyo at the northernend...

    • Chapter Five Fear of the Midnight Knock: State Sovereignty and Internal Enemies in Uganda
      (pp. 124-142)
      Sverker Finnström

      Independent Uganda has suffered a more or less constant postcolonial debacle, with systematic state violence especially during Idi Amin’s rule in the 1970s. Milton Obote failed to reverse the violent trend during his second presidency, which began in 1980, and in 1985 he was removed from power by his own army, just as Amin had removed him from power in 1971. The 1985 coup was the result of growing mistrust in the Ugandan army regarding the violent developments during Obote’s second government. Tito Okello, an army general from Acholiland, northern Uganda, was head of state for a brief period before...

    • Chapter Six The Shepherd’s Staff and the AK-47: Pastoralism and Handguns in Karamoja, Uganda
      (pp. 143-160)
      Frode Storaas

      Six hundred and eighty million hand weapons are out there. Eight million new ones enter the market every year.¹ While the Norwegian Initiative on Small Arms Transfers, NISAT, together with the United Nations, in 1998 hosted a conference in Oslo where they were discussing the problems associated with hand weapons with focus on Africa, I visited a 14-year-old boy by the name of Lorem at a village hospital in Uganda. His thigh had been ripped open by a bullet from an automatic weapon. He was in severe pain after being transported on a donkey for several hours to the local...

  8. Section III. Sovereign Logics

    • Chapter Seven The Sovereign as Savage: The Pathos of Ethno-Nationalist Passion
      (pp. 163-186)
      Christopher Taylor

      Very frequently in the past and even today, the term state has been used where the termgovernmentwould serve just as well if not better. This is the gist of an observation by Radcliffe-Brown in an early article (Radcliffe-Brown 1940). More recently, scholars of the state such as Abrams (1988) and Trouillot (2001) have seconded the objection raised by Radcliffe-Brown and have pointed out that power, construed very broadly, constitutes the central issue in understanding the state. In situating power at the center of analysis, these theorists follow the path blazed by Michel Foucault (1977). For Foucault there is...

    • Chapter Eight The Paramilitary Function of Transparency: Guatemala and Colombia
      (pp. 187-209)
      Staffan Löfving

      This chapter revolves around clandestine state violence in allegedly democratizing polities seeking their way from war to peace through implementing liberal modes of governance. More precisely, it traces the process in which paramilitarism resolves the contradiction between liberal and authoritarian practices of both law and violence in Colombia and Guatemala, and it offers a sketch toward the conceptualization of that same process.

      “Transparency” occupies a particular place in this discussion. Its magic resides in a promise to make the law visible, or accessible, and thereby the disobedience of power holders to the law exposed, not allowing relations of...

    • Chapter Nine Sorcery and Death Squads: Transformations of State, Sovereignty, and Violence in Postcolonial Mozambique
      (pp. 210-240)
      Bjørn Enge Bertelsen

      In late November 2005 I was sitting in a bar in one of the poorer bairros, the slum quarters of town, in Chimoio, central Mozambique, drinking beer with a friend and some acquaintances of his. We were talking about the problems of crime and of how things had gotten worse since the death of Samora Machel, the legendary president of Mozambique from independence in 1975 until he was killed in 1986. Many people attribute a certain nostalgia to him. “During his rule, there were no thieves, no criminals,” one of them said. “Yes, and after him it has always gotten...

    • Chapter Ten Collective Violence and Counter-State Building: Algeria 1954–62
      (pp. 241-264)
      Rasmus Alenius Boserup

      This chapter is about collective violence and counter-state building during the war of national independence in Algeria.¹ The war, which took place from 1954 to 1962, was one of the bloodiest struggles for national independence in Africa and the Middle East. Scholars estimate that about 30,000 French citizens and 350,000 to 500,000 Algerian Muslims were killed,² that one million were wounded, and that about two million others were internally displaced.³ The French army’s harsh methods of counterinsurgency in Algeria, which comprised of extrajudicial killings, systematic torture of suspects, and other war crimes,⁴ provoked indignant responses from scholars and intellectuals whose...

    • Chapter Eleven Malignant Organisms: Continuities of State-Run Violence in Rural Liberia
      (pp. 265-291)
      Mats Utas

      According to Hardt and Negri (2001), the abstract network organism that the authors have called theEmpirefeeds on its fringe zones. These zones clearly constitute geographically marginal areas including entire states, such as Liberia and several other West African countries, which provide textbook cases. The focus of this chapter is the contested sovereignty of the Liberian state during the 1990s civil war in the country. I provide an examination of historic accounts of organized violence, both on local and national levels, and argue that what we today often perceive to be failed or weak states must be seen as...

    • Chapter Twelve Israel’s Wall and the Logic of Encystation: Sovereign Exception or Wild Sovereignty?
      (pp. 292-304)
      Glenn Bowman

      I wrote the bulk of the following chapter in the Autumn of 2003 after witnessing first hand the depredations being imposed by the Israeli state on a community I had worked with closely for nearly fifteen years. The chapter is supplemented by—or is itself a supplement to—an annotated photographic slide show which attempts to offer audiences a palpable relation to the people who are being disinherited, dislocated, and worse by the Wall and by the militaristic manoeuvres which have accompanied its erection and maintenance.¹ I have decided, in reworking the essay for inclusion in the present volume, not...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 305-308)
  10. Index
    (pp. 309-330)