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Category Archives: Structural and cultural violence

Veiled interventions in pure space – Honour, shame and embodied struggles among Muslims in Britain and France.

Werbner, P. (2007). “Veiled interventions in pure space – Honour, shame and embodied struggles among Muslims in Britain and France.” Theory Culture & Society 24(2): 161-+.
The rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Europe seems to be tangibly signalled by an increase in women and young girls wearing the Muslim veil, the hijab. In France, this has led to the legal banning of all headscarves and other religious symbols in state schools in the name of French secularism. The article considers the ambiguities and ambivalences associated with the politics of embodiment surrounding veiling and honour killings comparatively, in Britain and France, and the implications for ongoing debates on multiculturalism. The article argues that the publicity surrounding symbolic practices of sexual intimacy in the context of modernity may come to be loaded with secondary symbolic connotations, often highly politicized, for both Muslims and Europeans, leading to irresolvable conundrums. The processes of higher order symbolization outlined here raise critical questions of authority: who has the authority to interpret the scriptures, in this case the Koran and ideas about individual liberty? Who has the right to determine the limits of modesty, or whom a young person should marry? As in the earlier confrontations in South Asia between Sufi saints and learned Muslim clerics, the current contestation involves a range of actors claiming authoritative sacred knowledge.

Parasite-stress, cultures of honor, and the emergence of gender bias in purity norms.

Vandello, J. A. and V. E. Hettinger (2012). “Parasite-stress, cultures of honor, and the emergence of gender bias in purity norms.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 35(2): 95-96.
Of the many far-reaching implications of Fincher & Thornhill’s (F&T’s) theory, we focus on the consequences of parasite stress for mating strategies, marriage, and the differing roles and restrictions for men and women. In particular, we explain how examination of cultures of honor can provide a theoretical bridge between effects of parasite stress and disproportionate emphasis on female purity.

US southern and northern differences in perceptions of norms about aggression – Mechanisms for the perpetuation of a culture of honor..

Vandello, J. A., D. Cohen, et al. (2008). “US southern and northern differences in perceptions of norms about aggression – Mechanisms for the perpetuation of a culture of honor.” Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 39(2): 162-177.
This article explores one reason why norms for male honor-related aggression persist in the U.S. South, even though they may no longer be functional. The authors suggest that, in addition to cultural differences in internalized honor-related values, southerners are more likely than northerners to perceive peer endorsement of aggression norms. Study I found that southern males were especially likely to overestimate the aggressiveness of their peers. Study 2 tested the hypothesis that southerners would be more likely to actively encourage aggressive behavior in others, but no support was found. However, Study 3 found that southern men were more likely than northern men to perceive others as encouraging aggression when witnessing interpersonal conflicts. Together, these studies suggest that southern males are more likely than their northern counterparts to assume their peers endorse and enforce norms of aggression that can lead to the perpetuation of norms for honorable violence above and beyond any differences in internalized values.

Male honor and female fidelity: Implicit cultural scripts that perpetuate domestic violence.

Vandello, J. A. and D. Cohen (2003). “Male honor and female fidelity: Implicit cultural scripts that perpetuate domestic violence.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84(5): 997-1010.
Two studies explored how domestic violence may be implicitly or explicitly sanctioned and reinforced in cultures where honor is a salient organizing theme. Three general predictions were supported: (a) female infidelity damages a man’s reputation, particularly in honor cultures; (b) this reputation can be partially restored through the use of violence and (c) women in honor cultures are expected to remain loyal in the face of jealousy-related violence. Study I involved participants from Brazil (an honor culture) and the United States responding to written vignettes involving infidelity and violence in response to infidelity. Study 2 involved southern Anglo, Latino, and northern Anglo participants witnessing a “live” incident of aggression against a woman (actually a confederate) and subsequently interacting with her.

A Globalized God: Religion’s Growing Influence in International Politics.

Thomas, S. M. (2010). “A Globalized God: Religion’s Growing Influence in International Politics.” Foreign Affairs 89(6): 93-+.
Religion is on the rise around the world, from the southern United States to the Middle East. If the United States recognizes and utilizes the worldwide religious resurgence, it can harness its power to improve international security and better the lives of millions. But if it does not, the potential for religiously motivated violence may increase dramatically.

Fighting with faith – Religion and conflict resolution a in civil wars.

Svensson, I. (2007). “Fighting with faith – Religion and conflict resolution a in civil wars.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 51(6): 930-949.
A growing literature has started to explore the relationship between religious dimensions and the escalation, duration, and termination of armed conflicts. This study explores the conditions for negotiated settlements. The author argues that if the belligerents’ demands are explicitly anchored in a religious tradition, they will come to perceive the conflicting issues as indivisible, and the conflict will be less likely to be settled through negotiations. Utilizing unique data on the primary parties’ religious demands and identities, all intrastate conflict-dyads in the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP), 1989-2003, are examined. The study finds that if governments or rebel-groups have made explicit religious claims, these conflict-dyads are significantly less likely than others to be terminated through negotiated settlement. By contrast, whether the primary parties come from different religious traditions does not affect the chances for negotiated settlement.

Piercing the veil.

Sunder, M. (2003). “Piercing the veil.” Yale Law Journal 112(6): 1399-+.
Human rights law has a problem with religion. In a postmodern world in which the nation-state has been deconstructed and eighteenth- and nineteenth-century notions of unmediated national sovereignty have been properly put to rest, religion-and its attendant category, culture-represent the New Sovereignty. September 11th crystallized this fact. The infamous Taliban regime in Afghanistan assumed power in 1996 and immediately began stripping women of fundamental human rights. But. war, not law, defeated what was perhaps the world’s most ruthless fundamentalist regime. This Article argues that religion qua religion is less the problem than is law’s construction of this category. Premised on Enlightenment theory, law has a fundamentalist view of religion as law’s “other.” Confident that freedom in the public sphere is freedom itself, law posits and, indeed, preserves religion as an extralegal sphere that is static, irrational, and imposed. Individuals may exit religion but not reform it. Increasingly; fundamentalists are taking advantage of this legal tradition. Because law does not recognize religious communities as contested and subject to change, legal norms such as the “freedom of religion” and the “right to culture” defer to the claims of patriarchal elites. The result is that, in case after case in both national and international law, law is siding with fundamentalists over modernizers. But on the ground, human rights activists working in Muslim communities are piercing the veil of religious sovereignty. In the work of these activists, this Article hears the rumblings of the New Enlightenment: Today, individuals demand democracy, reason, and rights within religious and cultural communities, not just without them. Examining the campaigns of reformers in Muslim communities through the overlooked efforts of transnational human rights “networks” and archives of women’s human rights education manuals-illuminated by interviews with leading activists from around the globe-this Article identifies an emergent, conceptually coherent framework for operationalizing modernity and freedom within a context of culture and community. This New Enlightenment upsets the foundation of the legal understanding of the “right to religion, ” which has deferred to leaders’ views over those of members. While feminists have challenged the absolute sovereignty of the private sphere, particularly on the issue of violence, women’s right to contest and create normative community-that is, to make cultural and religious meanings-has been far less theorized. This Article suggests that women’s human rights law must go beyond freedom from violence to freedom to make the world.

The fundamentalist mindset: psychological reflections on violence and religion.

Strozier, C. B. (2009). “The fundamentalist mindset: psychological reflections on violence and religion.” Psyche-Zeitschrift Fur Psychoanalyse Und Ihre Anwendungen 63(9-10): 925-947.
The fundamentalist mindset: psychological reflections on violence and religion. – An analysis of the nature of fundamentalism that considers most of all its relation to violence. Fundamentalism takes many forms historically and in the present, and strong religious beliefs can serve powerful spiritual needs for many people. But it can also stir extremism, violence, terrorism, and genocide. This aspect of fundamentalism must be considered in terms of its underlying reliance on paranoia that in turn connects with the apocalypticism always present in the fundamentalist mindset. Finally, the paper considers the way the presence of nuclear weapons influences the attitudes shaping the fundamentalist mindset.

The two faces of revenge: moral responsibility and the culture of honor.

Sommers, T. (2009). “The two faces of revenge: moral responsibility and the culture of honor.” Biology & Philosophy 24(1): 35-50.
Retributive emotions and behavior are thought to be adaptive for their role in improving social coordination. However, since retaliation is generally not in the short-term interests of the individual, rational self-interest erodes the motivational link between retributive emotions and the accompanying adaptive behavior. I argue that two different sets of norms have emerged to reinforce this link: (1) norms about honor and (2) norms about moral responsibility and desert. I observe that the primary difference between these types of retribution motivators lies in where the normative focus is placed after an offense. In the first form of retribution, the normative focus is on the offended party. In the second, it is on the offender. Next, I show how each class of norms is well tailored to the particular features of the environment in which these forms of retributive behavior emerge. Finally, I consider some philosophical implications of these observations. I suggest that my account, if correct, would pose tough challenges for contemporary philosophical theories of moral responsibility and punishment.

Adherence to Honor Code Mediates the Prediction of Adolescent Boys’ Conduct Problems by Callousness and Socioeconomic Status.

Somech, L. Y. and Y. Elizur (2009). “Adherence to Honor Code Mediates the Prediction of Adolescent Boys’ Conduct Problems by Callousness and Socioeconomic Status.” Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology 38(5): 606-618.
Although there is considerable evidence that culture-related factors are associated with aggressive behavior, their effect on the development of conduct problems (CP) has been insufficiently studied. This study focused on adherence to honor code (AHC), defined by the endorsement of honor culture attitudes at the identity narrative level of personality assessment, as a mediator in the prediction of CP by callousness, insecure attachment, and socioeconomic status. Our sample of 136 adolescent boys (M age = 15.02, SD = 1.48) oversampled high- and low-level Israeli schools, both academically and behaviorally. Structural equation modeling supported the theoretical model: AHC was a significant predictor of CP and partially mediated the prediction of CP by callousness and socioeconomic status. Insecure attachment predicted AHC but was not an independent predictor of CP.