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CfP: "Social Figurations of Violence and War beyond the State", 21-22.2.2008

CAS 11/06/2007

The Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology 
  and the Working Group ‘Orders of Violence’ of the German Political Science Association announce

a call for papers for their joint workshop on:


21 - 22 February 2008 

Venue: Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology,
Halle/Saale, Germany

Weak states, state failure and state decay are catchwords utilised to describe transformations of the global and local political order based on the state. Most of these publications draw on a rather
‘absolutist view’ of the state, imagining it as the sole founder and main guarantor of law and order and hence the main source of social rules, norms and values guiding the everyday life of its people.
Putting into question such state-centric approaches, empirical studies have meanwhile revealed that alternative forms of social regulation and governance may be prevalent under the cover of formal state control, either because the state has not managed or because it has not intended to extend its power into all (peripheral) areas and/or social fields within its demarcated territory.

Such social and territorial realms, in which violence is widespread and mainly (though not necessarily exclusively) shaped and regulated by non-state actors, and in which alternative sources of profit, power and legitimacy have been established, are at the centre of this workshop. Areas and societal niches of interest include:
• remote/peripheral areas which are spatially and
socially distinct from the administrative state
• urban niches or ‘ghettos’ shaped by (juvenile)
delinquency and gang violence,
• areas of long lasting banditry,
• zones of violent conflicts and war.

The workshop’s overarching aim is to contribute to a deeper understanding of social processes and institutions shaping violent orders beyond the state. For that purpose we would like to bring together scholars from different disciplines and with a variety of ideas, experiences and expertise in this field of study.

The following interrelated fields are envisaged for comparisons and in-depth analyses of violent

(1) Actors in violent settings: violent organisations (gangs, mafia-type organisations, insurgencies or  warlord groups) and non-violent organisations in violent settings (business-groups, non-governmental organisations, self-help groups, traditional or religious authorities, intellectuals, etc.)

(2) Violence and legitimacy – power and identity: ideological schism, myths, memories, narratives and symbols Violent groups use to gain supporters and to define enemies and potential victims.

(3) Violence, subjectivity and the body: the connection between forms of violence, the body and
the creation of the modern subject. The microphysics of power in that power relations as inscribed in the body through drill, excruciation and the like and the anthropologic perspective on how the body is utilised to define the own self, to demonstrate identity and to mark status.

(4) Transformations of violent orders:  processes of de-institutionalisation and institutionalisation.

 We would like to encourage scholars and researchers from different disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, political science, geography and history to send in their proposals. Case studies of current as well as historical cases are both most welcome. Contributions should address a specific context and explore one of the fields outlined above. Proposals should not exceed 3 pages. Travel and accommodation costs of paper-givers will be covered.

Deadline for proposal submissions: 31 July 2007

Please send your proposals to Jutta Bakonyi:

Dipl.-Pol. Berit Bliesemann de Guevara
Institut fuer Internationale Politik
Helmut-Schmidt Universitaet/
Universitaet der Bundeswehr Hamburg

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