Thursday, 14 May 2009

Some last-minute notes

"I laboured under an unconscious Cold-War imperative that led me to sanitise my depictions of political violence and repression among revolutionary peasants.On a theoretical level, this obscured the multisided character of violence and the commonalities among its various subtypes of violence across historical, cultural and political settings....By contrast, in the racialised urban core of the United States, I was able to critique the demobilising effects of everyday violence by showing how it resulted from the internalisation of historically entrenched structural violence as expressed in a banalised maelstrom of interpersonal and delinquent aggression." 

The Continuum of Violence in War and Peace: Post Cold-War Lessons from El Salvador, Philippe Bourgois (2004)

- Cold War politics influenced the author's analysis and reading of violence in El Salvador while neoliberal politics influenced the author's reading of inner-city violence
- What politics guides/influences our view of violence and conflict today? 

He says, "In the post Cold War era, a better understanding of these complex linkages is especially important because it is international market forces rather than politically-driven repression or armed resistance that is waging war for the hearts and minds of populations." 

"..I found that economic agendas appear to be central to understanding why civil wars start. Conflicts are far more likely to be caused by economic opportunities than by grievance." 

Paul Collier, Doing Well Out of War: An Economic Perspective (2000)

"Those on the political right tend to assume that it is due to long standing ethnic and religious hatreds, those in the political centre tend to assume that it is due to a lack of democracy and that violence occurs where opportunities for the peaceful resolution of political disputes are lacking, and those on the political left tend to assume that it is due to economic inequalities or to a deep-rooted legacy of colonialism. None of these explanations sits comfortably with the statistical evidence. Empirically, the most striking pattern is that civil war is heavily concentrated in the poorest countries. War causes poverty, but the more important reason for the concentration is that poverty increases the likelihood of civil war. Thus our central argument can be stated briefly: the key root cause of civil conflict is the failure of economic development."

World Bank (2003) Breaking the Conflict Trap: Civil War and Development Policy

But dude, what's the cause of the failure of economic development? Why is poverty concentrated where it is concentrated? 

"I can stand in the most remote war zones of the world and watch a veritable supermarket of goods move into and out of the country along extra-state lines." 

Carolyn Nordstrom, 2000

"The phrase 'senseless violence' is a peculiarly empty piece of huffing and puffing according to Noel, historian of the Balkans." 

"However repugnant violence may be, the one thing it is not is senseless." Anton Blok

from Stephen Ellis, Violence and History: A Response to Thandika Mkandawire

"So if men emerged from colonial subjugation as autonomous citizens of an independent nation, then they emerged simultaneously as monsters." 

"Here it is the issue of the women drinking poisonous knowledge and men moulding the silences of the women with their words..."

"It worries me that I have unable to name that which died when autonomous citizens of India were simultaneously born as monsters. But then I have to remind myself and others that those who tried to name it, such as Manto, themselves touched the madness and died in fierce regret for the loss of the radical dream of transforming India, while those who found speech easily, as in the political debates on abducted women in the Constituent Assembly, continue to talk about national honour when dealing with the violence that women have had to endure in every communal riot since the Partition." 

Veena Das, 2003, Language and Body: Transactions in the Construction of Pain

The people's death was as it had always been:
as if nobody had died, nothing, 
as if those stones were falling
on the earth, or water on water....
Nobody hid this crime. 
This crime was committed
in the middle of the Plaza

Pablo Neruda 1991

On each hill a different story
That the police kill innocent people
And who was innocent is a bandit today
So he can eat a fucked up piece of bread.

--Chico Science, Banditry for Reasons of Class

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