No Peace No War: Anthropology Of Contemporary Armed Conflicts

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9780821415764: No Peace No War: Anthropology Of Contemporary Armed Conflicts

A rash Of Small Wars Erupted after the Cold War ended in Africa, the Balkans, and other parts of the former communist world. The wars were in "inter-zones," the spaces left where weak states had withdrawn or collapsed. Consequently the debate over what constitutes war has returned to basics. No Peace, No War departs from the usual analysis that considers the new wars mindless mass actions to offer the paradoxical idea that to understand war one must deny war special status. Rather than leave war to the security specialists, these writers attempt to grasp its character as one among many aspects of social reality.

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About the Author:

Paul Richards is Professor of Technology & Agrarian Development, Wageningen University, The Netherlands, and Professor of Anthropology, University College, London

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Where Richards' collection is particularly interesting is in its reverse twist to this argument, in showing 'peace' as an analytically more problematic and socially much rarer phenomenon than 'war' - Mark Leopold in AFRICAN AFFAIRS Paul Richards offers a brilliant critique of some of the most influential explanations of African conflicts in the introductory chapter to this book. He successfully demolishes theories, delivers the coup de grace to Kaplan's long moribund new barbarism thesis and goes on to tackle Paul Collier's greed not grievance theory. ...The nub of his critique is as straightforward as it is convincing: (Collier's) analysis shows that internal wars are more likely where mineral wealth combines with poverty and where there is high unemployment among young men with limited education, but (perversely) he considers neither circumstance grounds for valid grievance. As he goes on to note: This seems very odd to anyone with on-the-ground knowledge of youth activism against oil companies in the Niger Delta or rebels facing mercenary-backed kimberlite concession holders in Sierra Leone. Why it is 'greedy' to want a basic education or a job Collier does not explain. ... As always Richards is nothing if not challenging and provocative - Rene Lemarchand in AFRICAN STUDIES REVIEW This work is an excellent study of current conflicts, wars and intractably violent contexts. ...the authors display a convincing coherence in establishing some key points about the ethnography of armed conflict in particular the way in which ethnographic engagement with fighters and their victims belies the kinds of analysis proffered by security experts and international relations scholars. ...This collection is an important illustration of what theoretically informed ethnography can achieve in the study of violence and armed conflict. This volume well represents the power of renewed anthropological approaches to warfare and the relation of politics, media and the global order. It is to be thoroughly recommended for not just anthropologists but political scientists and international relations specialists as well. - Neil Whitehead in ANTHROPOS

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