No Peace, No War: An Anthropology of Contemporary Armed Conflicts

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Paul Richards
Ohio University Press, 2005 - History - 214 pages
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The proliferation of 'new wars' since the end of the Cold War has forced scholars to re-open the debate about 'what is war?' For most commentators, 'new war' is 'mindless' mass action. It has become a behavioural problem. Like a disease, the risk of infection must be contained. This book takes a different approach. Anthropologists who have lived with and through the wars they describe here reflect a paradoxical assumption that to understand war we must deny it a special status. Rather than quarantine warand leave it to security specialists they attempt to grasp its character as but one among many phases or aspects of social reality, organised by social agents, made through social action. All war is long-term struggle organised for political ends, and neither the means nor the ends can be understood without reference to a specific social context.

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