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Scheper-Hughes and Bourgois (Prof of Anthropology @ Cal-Berkely; Prof of Anthropology @ UPenn) 04
(Nancy and Philippe, Introduction: Making Sense of Violence, in Violence in War and Peace, pg. 19-22)
This large and at first sight “messy” Part VII is central to this anthology’s thesis. It encompasses everything from the routinized, bureaucratized, and utterly banal violence of children dying of hunger and maternal despair in Northeast Brazil (Scheper-Hughes, Chapter 33) to elderly African Americans dying of heat stroke in Mayor Daly’s version of US apartheid in Chicago’s South Side (Klinenberg, Chapter 38) to the racialized class hatred expressed by British Victorians in their olfactory disgust of the “smelly” working classes (Orwell, Chapter 36). In these readings violence is located in the symbolic and social structures that overdetermine and allow the criminalized drug addictions, interpersonal bloodshed, and racially patterned incarcerations that characterize the US “inner city” to be normalized (Bourgois, Chapter 37 and Wacquant, Chapter 39). Violence also takes the form of class, racial, political self-hatred and adolescent self-destruction (Quesada, Chapter 35), as well as of useless (i.e. preventable), rawly embodied physical suffering, and death (Farmer, Chapter 34). Absolutely central to our approach is a blurring of categories and distinctions between wartime and peacetime violence. Close attention to the “little” violences produced in the structures, habituses, and mentalites of everyday life shifts our attention to pathologies of class, race, and gender inequalities. More important, it interrupts the voyeuristic tendencies of “violence studies” that risk publicly humiliating the powerless who are often forced into complicity with social and individual pathologies of power because suffering is often a solvent of human integrity and dignity. Thus, in this anthology we are positing a violence continuum comprised of a multitude of “small wars and invisible genocides” (see also Scheper- Hughes 1996; 1997; 2000b) conducted in the normative social spaces of public schools, clinics, emergency rooms, hospital wards, nursing homes, courtrooms, public registry offices, prisons, detention centers, and public morgues. The violence continuum also refers to the ease with which humans are capable of reducing the socially vulnerable into expendable nonpersons and assuming the license - even the duty - to kill, maim, or soul-murder. We realize that in referring to a violence and a genocide continuum we are flying in the face of a tradition of genocide studies that argues for the absolute uniqueness of the Jewish Holocaust and for vigilance with respect to restricted purist use of the term genocide itself (see Kuper 1985; Chaulk 1999; Fein 1990; Chorbajian 1999). But we hold an opposing and alternative view that, to the contrary, it is absolutely necessary to make just such existential leaps in purposefully linking violent acts in normal times to those of abnormal times. Hence the title of our volume: Violence in War and in Peace. If (as we concede) there is a moral risk in overextending the concept of “genocide” into spaces and corners of everyday life where we might not ordinarily think to find it (and there is), an even greater risk lies in failing to sensitize ourselves, in misrecognizing protogenocidal practices and sentiments daily enacted as normative behavior by “ordinary” good-enough citizens. Peacetime crimes, such as prison construction sold as economic development to impoverished communities in the mountains and deserts of California, or the evolution of the criminal industrial complex into the latest peculiar institution for managing race relations in the United States (Waquant, Chapter 39), constitute the “small wars and invisible genocides” to which we refer. This applies to African American and Latino youth mortality statistics in Oakland, California, Baltimore, Washington DC, and New York City. These are “invisible” genocides not because they are secreted away or hidden from view, but quite the opposite. As Wittgenstein observed, the things that are hardest to perceive are those which are right before our eyes and therefore taken for granted. In this regard, Bourdieu’s partial and unfinished theory of violence (see Chapters 32 and 42) as well as his concept of misrecognition is crucial to our task. By including the normative everyday forms of violence hidden in the minutiae of “normal” social practices - in the architecture of homes, in gender relations, in communal work, in the exchange of gifts, and so forth - Bourdieu forces us to reconsider the broader meanings and status of violence, especially the links between the violence of everyday life and explicit political terror and state repression, Similarly, Basaglia’s notion of “peacetime crimes” - crimini di pace - imagines a direct relationship between wartime and peacetime violence. Peacetime crimes suggests the possibility that war crimes are merely ordinary, everyday crimes of public consent applied systematic- ally and dramatically in the extreme context of war. Consider the parallel uses of rape during peacetime and wartime, or the family resemblances between the legalized violence of US immigration and naturalization border raids on “illegal aliens” versus the US government- engineered genocide in 1938, known as the Cherokee “Trail of Tears.” Peacetime crimes suggests that everyday forms of state violence make a certain kind of domestic peace possible. Internal “stability” is purchased with the currency of peacetime crimes, many of which take the form of professionally applied “strangle-holds.” Everyday forms of state violence during peacetime make a certain kind of domestic “peace” possible. It is an easy-to-identify peacetime crime that is usually maintained as a public secret by the government and by a scared or apathetic populace. Most subtly, but no less politically or structurally, the phenomenal growth in the United States of a new military, postindustrial prison industrial complex has taken place in the absence of broad-based opposition, let alone collective acts of civil disobedience. The public consensus is based primarily on a new mobilization of an old fear of the mob, the mugger, the rapist, the Black man, the undeserving poor. How many public executions of mentally deficient prisoners in the United States are needed to make life feel more secure for the affluent? What can it possibly mean when incarceration becomes the “normative” socializing experience for ethnic minority youth in a society, i.e., over 33 percent of young African American men (Prison Watch 2002). In the end it is essential that we recognize the existence of a genocidal capacity among otherwise good-enough humans and that we need to exercise a defensive hypervigilance to the less dramatic, permitted, and even rewarded everyday acts of violence that render participation in genocidal acts and policies possible (under adverse political or economic conditions), perhaps more easily than we would like to recognize. Under the violence continuum we include, therefore, all expressions of radical social exclusion, dehumanization, depersonal- ization, pseudospeciation, and reification which normalize atrocious behavior and violence toward others. A constant self-mobilization for alarm, a state of constant hyperarousal is, perhaps, a reasonable response to Benjamin’s view of late modern history as a chronic “state of emergency” (Taussig, Chapter 31). We are trying to recover here the classic anagogic thinking that enabled Erving Goffman, Jules Henry, C. Wright Mills, and Franco Basaglia among other mid-twentieth-century radically critical thinkers, to perceive the symbolic and structural relations, i.e., between inmates and patients, between concentration camps, prisons, mental hospitals, nursing homes, and other “total institutions.” Making that decisive move to recognize the continuum of violence allows us to see the capacity and the willingness - if not enthusiasm - of ordinary people, the practical technicians of the social consensus, to enforce genocidal-like crimes against categories of rubbish people. There is no primary impulse out of which mass violence and genocide are born, it is ingrained in the common sense of everyday social life. The mad, the differently abled, the mentally vulnerable have often fallen into this category of the unworthy living, as have the very old and infirm, the sick-poor, and, of course, the despised racial, religious, sexual, and ethnic groups of the moment. Erik Erikson referred to “pseudo- speciation” as the human tendency to classify some individuals or social groups as less than fully human - a prerequisite to genocide and one that is carefully honed during the unremark- able peacetimes that precede the sudden, “seemingly unintelligible” outbreaks of mass violence. Collective denial and misrecognition are prerequisites for mass violence and genocide. But so are formal bureaucratic structures and professional roles. The practical technicians of everyday violence in the backlands of Northeast Brazil (Scheper-Hughes, Chapter 33), for example, include the clinic doctors who prescribe powerful tranquilizers to fretful and frightfully hungry babies, the Catholic priests who celebrate the death of “angel-babies,” and the municipal bureaucrats who dispense free baby coffins but no food to hungry families. Everyday violence encompasses the implicit, legitimate, and routinized forms of violence inherent in particular social, economic, and political formations. It is close to what Bourdieu (1977, 1996) means by “symbolic violence,” the violence that is often “nus-recognized” for something else, usually something good. Everyday violence is similar to what Taussig (1989) calls “terror as usual.” All these terms are meant to reveal a public secret - the hidden links between violence in war and violence in peace, and between war crimes and “peace-time crimes.” Bourdieu (1977) finds domination and violence in the least likely places - in courtship and marriage, in the exchange of gifts, in systems of classification, in style, art, and culinary taste- the various uses of culture. Violence, Bourdieu insists, is everywhere in social practice. It is misrecognized because its very everydayness and its familiarity render it invisible. Lacan identifies “rneconnaissance” as the prerequisite of the social. The exploitation of bachelor sons, robbing them of autonomy, independence, and progeny, within the structures of family farming in the European countryside that Bourdieu escaped is a case in point (Bourdieu, Chapter 42; see also Scheper-Hughes, 2000b; Favret-Saada, 1989). Following Gramsci, Foucault, Sartre, Arendt, and other modern theorists of power-vio- lence, Bourdieu treats direct aggression and physical violence as a crude, uneconomical mode of domination; it is less efficient and, according to Arendt (1969), it is certainly less legitimate. While power and symbolic domination are not to be equated with violence - and Arendt argues persuasively that violence is to be understood as a failure of power - violence, as we are presenting it here, is more than simply the expression of illegitimate physical force against a person or group of persons. Rather, we need to understand violence as encompassing all forms of “controlling processes” (Nader 1997b) that assault basic human freedoms and individual or collective survival. Our task is to recognize these gray zones of violence which are, by definition, not obvious. Once again, the point of bringing into the discourses on genocide everyday, normative experiences of reification, depersonalization, institutional confinement, and acceptable death is to help answer the question: What makes mass violence and genocide possible? In this volume we are suggesting that mass violence is part of a continuum, and that it is socially incremental and often experienced by perpetrators, collaborators, bystanders - and even by victims themselves - as expected, routine, even justified. The preparations for mass killing can be found in social sentiments and institutions from the family, to schools, churches, hospitals, and the military. They harbor the early “warning signs” (Charney 1991), the “priming” (as Hinton, ed., 2002 calls it), or the “genocidal continuum” (as we call it) that push social consensus toward devaluing certain forms of human life and lifeways from the refusal of social support and humane care to vulnerable “social parasites” (the nursing home elderly, “welfare queens,” undocumented immigrants, drug addicts) to the militarization of everyday life (super-maximum-security prisons, capital punishment; the technologies of heightened personal security, including the house gun and gated communities; and reversed feelings of victimization).