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“Honour”: Crimes, paradigms, and violence against women

Welchman, L. and S. Hossain, Eds. (2005). “Honour”: Crimes, paradigms, and violence against women. New York, Zed Books.

This volume brings together the practical insights and experiences of individuals and organizations addressing so-called “honour crimes”, including “honour killings”, and interference with the right to marry, as well as analyzing relevant crosscutting thematic issues. In addition, this book identifies relevant intersecting thematic issues from practice-orientated academic perspective. It seeks to highlight a human rights based framework in seeking to address “crimes of honour” rather than taking a culturally relativist approach.

Peace or violence: the ends of religion and education?

 

Jeff Astley, Leslie J. Francis, and Mandy Robbins. 2007. Peace or violence: the ends of religion and education? University of Wales Press.
Religion’s impact on world politics has been of major concern since the 9/11 terrorist attacks and America’s military response. Peace or Violence addresses the timely question of the role of religious education; does it merely inculcate the fundamentalist mindset that leads to sectarian violence or can it instead promote peace? Through an analysis and evaluation of many of the different models of religious education across the Western world, this book considers religion’s role in a polarized and globalized world. The contributors gathered here persuasively argue that religious education’s responsibility is to inform and enrich communal life.

Sacred and secular. Religion and Politics Worldwide.

Norris, P. and R. Inglehart (2004). “Sacred and secular. Religion and Politics Worldwide.”: 329.
Seminal thinkers of the nineteenth century – August Comte, Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud – all predicted that religion would gradually fade in importance and cease to be significant with the emergence of industrial society. The belief that religion was dying became the conventional wisdom in the social sciences during most of the 20th century. During the last decade, however, the secularization thesis has experienced the most sustained challenge in its long history.

The traditional secularization thesis needs updating. Religion has not disappeared and is unlikely to do so. Nevertheless, the concept of secularization captures an important part of what is going on. This book develops a theory of secularization and existential security and compares it against survey evidence from almost 80 societies worldwide.

Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?

Susan Moller Okin. 1999. Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? Edited by Joshua Cohen, Matthew Howard, and Martha C. Nussbaum. Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press.

Polygamy, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, punishing women for being raped, differential access for men and women to health care and education, unequal rights of ownership, assembly, and political participation, unequal vulnerability to violence. These practices and conditions are standard in some parts of the world. Do demands for multiculturalism–and certain minority group rights in particular–make them more likely to continue and to spread to liberal democracies? Are there fundamental conflicts between our commitment to gender equity and our increasing desire to respect the customs of minority cultures or religions? In this book, the eminent feminist Susan Moller Okin and fifteen of the world’s leading thinkers about feminism and multiculturalism explore these unsettling questions in a provocative, passionate, and illuminating debate.

Okin opens by arguing that some group rights can, in fact, endanger women. She points, for example, to the French government’s giving thousands of male immigrants special permission to bring multiple wives into the country, despite French laws against polygamy and the wives’ own bitter opposition to the practice. Okin argues that if we agree that women should not be disadvantaged because of their sex, we should not accept group rights that permit oppressive practices on the grounds that they are fundamental to minority cultures whose existence may otherwise be threatened.

In reply, some respondents reject Okin’s position outright, contending that her views are rooted in a moral universalism that is blind to cultural difference. Others quarrel with Okin’s focus on gender, or argue that we should be careful about which group rights we permit, but not reject the category of group rights altogether. Okin concludes with a rebuttal, clarifying, adjusting, and extending her original position. These incisive and accessible essays–expanded from their original publication in Boston Review and including four new contributions–are indispensable reading for anyone interested in one of the most contentious social and political issues today.

The diverse contributors, in addition to Okin, are Azizah al-Hibri, Abdullahi An-Na’im, Homi Bhabha, Sander Gilman, Janet Halley, Bonnie Honig, Will Kymlicka, Martha Nussbaum, Bhikhu Parekh, Katha Pollitt, Robert Post, Joseph Raz, Saskia Sassen, Cass Sunstein, and Yael Tamir.

 

 

Sacred and Secular. Religion and Politics Worldwide.

Norris, P. and R. Inglehart (2004). Sacred and Secular. Religion and Politics Worldwide. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Seminal thinkers of the nineteenth century — Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud — all predicted that religion would gradually fade in importance and cease to be significant with the emergence of industrial society. The belief that religion was dying became the conventional wisdom in the social sciences during most of the twentieth century.

During the last decade, however, the secularization thesis has experienced the most sustained challenge in its long history. Critics point to multiple indicators of religious health and vitality today, from the continued popularity of churchgoing in the United States, to the emergence of New Age spirituality in Western Europe, the surge of fundamentalist movements and Islamic parties in the Muslim world, the evangelical revival sweeping through Latin America, and the widespread ethno-religious conflicts in international affairs.

The traditional secularization thesis needs updating.  Religion has not disappeared and is unlikely to do so. Nevertheless, the concept of secularization captures an important part of what is going on.  This book develops a theory of secularization and existential security, building on key elements of traditional sociological theories and revising others.  This book demonstrates that: (1) The publics of virtually all advanced industrial societies have been moving toward more secular orientations during the past fifty years; but (2) The world as a whole now has more people with traditional religious views than ever before– and they constitute a growing proportion of the world’s population.  Though these two propositions may seem contradictory, they are not.  The fact that the first proposition is true, helps account for the second—because secularization has a surprisingly powerful negative impact on human fertility rates.

The critiques of secularization draw their evidence mainly from the United States (which happens to be a strikingly exceptional case) rather than comparing systematic evidence across a broad range of both rich and poor societies.  This book draws on a massive base of new evidence generated by the four waves of the World Values Survey executed from 1981 to 2001 in eighty societies, covering all of the world’s major faiths. Examining religiosity from a broader perspective and in a wider range of countries than ever before, this book demonstrates that religiosity persists most strongly among vulnerable populations, especially those in poorer nations and in failed states, facing personal survival-threatening risks.  Exposure to physical, societal and personal risks drives religiosity. Conversely, a systematic erosion of religious practices, values and beliefs has occurred among the more prosperous strata in rich nations.

Honour Related Violence: A European Resource Book and Good Practice-Based on the European Project “Prevention of Violence against Women and Girls in Patriarchal Families”

Kvinnoforum (2005). Honour Related Violence: A European Resource Book and Good Practice-Based on the European Project “Prevention of Violence against Women and Girls in Patriarchal Families”. Stockholm, Kvinnoforum/European Commission DG Social Affairs and Employment. http://www.medinstgenderstudies.org/wp-content/uploads/hrvresourcebook.pdf

This Resource Book is one of the outcomes of a European project regarding honour related violence. The purpose of this Resource Book
is to increase and improve the support to those who suffer from honour related violence (HRV), and to prevent the future occurrence of this violence. The resource Book gives an overview of the present situation of HRV in the respective countries that have participated  in this project, and  discusses the level
of occurrence of HRV. It also points out important findings and recommendations for future work against HRV in the affected countries.
This Resource Book also provides a presentation of examples of good practice. We have chosen to highlight a number of good examples of supportive and preventive work from both authorities and civil societies organisations to cover different areas in regards to working against HRV, but there are many more. Additional contacts can be found in the end of each country report in an overview of organisations working against HRV, and the various preventive and supportive work they do. There is also presentation of initiatives, contact persons and resource groups from different authorities.

 

The fundamentalist mindset : psychological perspectives on religion, violence, and history.

Charles B Strozier; David M Terman; James William Jones; Katharine Boyd. 2010. The fundamentalist mindset : psychological perspectives on religion, violence, and history. New York : Oxford University Press.

This penetrating book sheds light on the psychology of fundamentalism, with a particular focus on those who become extremists and fanatics. What accounts for the violence that emerges among some fundamentalist groups? The contributors of this book identify several factors: a radical dualism, in which all aspects of life are bluntly categorized as either good or evil; a destructive inclination to interpret authoritative texts, laws, and teachings in the most literal of terms; an extreme and totalized conversion experience; paranoid thinking; and an apocalyptic world view. After examining each of these concepts in detail, and showing the way in which they lead to violence among widely disparate groups, these engrossing displays explore such areas as fundamentalism in the American experience and among jihadists, and they illuminate aspects of the same psychology that contributed to such historical crises as the French revolution, the Nazi movement, and post-partition Hindu religious practice.

Religion, Culture and the Politicization of Honour-Related Violence: A Critical Analysis of Media and Policy Debates in Western Europe and North America

Anna C. Korteweg, Gökçe Yurdakul. 2010. Religion, Culture and the Politicization of Honour-Related Violence: A Critical Analysis of Media and Policy Debates in Western Europe and North America, UNRISD Paper No. 12.

Over the past decade, the issue of honour-related violence (including honour killing and forced marriage) has entered media and policy debates in immigrant-receiving countries like the Netherlands, Germany, Britain and Canada. In some of these countries, media debate has instigated policy debate. This paper analyses how media, parliaments and other state institutions, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) conceptualize honour killing and honour-related violence in order to uncover how such conceptualizations inform policy responses. The analysis reveals three main trends:

i. discussions that link honour killing to Islam and/or the backwardness of immigrant communities in ways that lead to the stigmatization of entire immigrant communities;
ii. culture-blind portrayals of honour-related violence as domestic violence or violence against women that do not pay attention to cultural specificities; and
iii. debates that are contextually specific, framing honour-related violence as a contextually informed form of violence against women that occurs within particular immigrant communities but where this violence does not essentialize the culture and practices of those communities as a whole.

The paper shows that these discursive conceptualizations inform different policy approaches to the issue. Korteweg and Yurdakul contend that discussions of honour-related violence that stigmatize are more likely to lead to general anti-immigrant policies or policies that impede settlement. Debates that frame honour-related violence as a variant of the generally widespread problem of domestic violence and violence against women are more likely to lead to policies that directly target these forms of violence.

The country-specific findings show that the stigmatization of Muslim communities is present in media and political debates in each country, albeit in varying degrees. In the Netherlands, the authors found contextually specific policy making, which was embedded in the country’s multiculturalist tradition. Although there is a recent debate on the decline of multiculturalism in the Netherlands, institutional structures still permit immigrant-oriented and inclusive political decision-making processes. The policies against gendered violence in the Netherlands are largely contextually specific, integrating different actors (such as NGOs, shelters and police) and aiming for prevention and protection as well as prosecution. By contrast, the German media and political debates are particularly stigmatizing without informing or offering alternative ways of policy making. This has led to policies that generally restrict immigration rather than those that directly target gendered violence in immigrant communities. In Britain, perhaps the most paradoxical case of all four countries, stigmatization and contextually specific approaches were both present. The recent shift from British multiculturalism to social cohesion policies brings a new approach to dealing with immigrant-related issues in the country in general, and policy approaches to gendered violence in immigrant communities has partially reflected this shift in immigrant integration policies. Culture-blind portrayals of honour-related violence are especially prevalent in Canadian media and political debates. In Canada, violence against women in immigrant communities is discussed only within the domestic violence framework, ignoring the immigration context that may affect this kind of violence. Therefore, no policies in Canada specifically acknowledge, define or target honour-related violence.

The authors suggest that policy responses will be effective only insofar as gendered violence is understood within its social, cultural and political context and if that context is not seen as foreign but rather as part of the new social relations in the immigrant-receiving society. Hence, they argue that honour-related violence needs to be understood not as a “cultural” or “religious” problem that afflicts particular immigrant communities (in this case, often those perceived and represented as Muslim) but as a specific manifestation of the larger problem of violence against women (which concerns all communities, whether immigrant or not) that in the case of immigrant communities is shaped and informed by the immigration experience. Only a contextually specific approach allows for this understanding.

A God of One’s Own: Religion’s Capacity for Peace and Potential for Violence

Ulrich Beck, (2010) A God of One’s Own: Religion’s Capacity for Peace and Potential for Violence, Polity Press.

Religion posits one characteristic as an absolute: faith. Compared to faith, all other social distinctions and sources of conflict are insignificant. The New Testament says: ‘We are all equal in the sight of God’. To be sure, this equality applies only to those who acknowledge God’s existence. What this means is that alongside the abolition of class and nation within the community of believers, religion introduces a new fundamental distinction into the world the distinction between the right kind of believers and the wrong kind. Thus overtly or tacitly, religion brings with it the demonization of believers in other faiths.

The central question that will decide the continued existence of humanity is this: How can we conceive of a type of inter-religious tolerance in which loving one’s neighbor does not imply war to the death, a type of tolerance whose goal is not truth but peace?

Is what we are experiencing at present a regression of monotheistic religion to a polytheism of the religious spirit under the heading of ‘a God of one’s own’? In Western societies, where the autonomy of the individual has been internalized, individual human beings tend to feel increasingly at liberty to tell themselves little faith stories that fit their own lives to appoint ‘Gods of their own’. However, this God of
their own is no longer the one and only God who presides over salvation by seizing control of history and empowering his followers to be intolerant and use naked force.

Honour and Violence.

Blok, A. (2001). Honour and Violence. Cambridge, Polity Press.
Blood is culturally associated with virginity and procreation, and therefore also imbues the bonds between in-laws. The comparative study of violence suffers several handicaps. The most important is the dominant conception of violence  in modern societies in which the means of violence have since long been monopolized by the state. Precisely because of the stability of this relatively impersonal monopoly and the resulting pacification of society at large, people have developed strong feelings about using and witnessing violence. They are inclined to consider its unauthorized forms in particular as anomalous, irrational, senseless and disruptive – as ther everse of social order, as the antithesis of civilization as something that has to be brought under control.

Rather than defining violence a priori as senseless and irrational, we should consider it as a changing form of interaction and communication, as a historically developed cultural form of meaningful action. It is well known that many cases of homicide result from insults. We also know that sensitivity to insults varies with context and that some people are more sensitive to them than others. When inflicted in public, insults can be experienced as a serious form of verbal violence, in which injusry mixes with insult. This is particualry true in cultures with a strongly developed sense of honour. For men, the use of violence is the best way to obtain satisfactipn for stained honour and to restore their reputation for manliness. The ultimate vindication of honour lies in physical violence.
Rather than looking at violence through essentialisitc or naturalistic lenses, it makes more sense to consider violence as a cultural category, as a historically developed cultural form or construction. How people concieve of violence and the meaning it has for them is continggent with time and place, varies with historical circumstances, and depends on the persepctive of those involved – offenders and victims, spectators and bystanders, witnesses and authorities.

Today we judge violence against persons more severely than violence against property, it used to be the opposite. Hooliganism is rooted in the working-class subculture where fighting and open aggression are appropriate and desirable in certain situations, and sereve – for an age category that has been cross-culturally identified as betwixt and between – as a means of acquiring status and prestige.
Violence can be ritual – sacrifices. Terrorism sometimes takes the character of ritual sacrifice.