Death Squad: The Anthropology of State Terror

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Jeffrey A. Sluka
University of Pennsylvania Press, Aug 3, 2010 - Political Science - 264 pages
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"There is real personal danger for anthropologists who dare to speak and write against terror; by doing so, they potentially and sometimes actually bring the terror down on themselves."—Jeffrey A. Sluka, from the Introduction

Death Squad is the first work to focus specifically on the anthropology of state terror. It brings together an international group of anthropologists who have done extensive research in areas marked by extreme forms of state violence and who have studied state terror from the perspective of victims and survivors.

The book presents eight case studies from seven countries—Spain, India (Punjab and Kashmir), Argentina, Guatemala, Northern Ireland, Indonesia, and the Philippines—to demonstrate the cultural complexities and ambiguities of terror when viewed at the local level and from the participants' point of view. Contributors deal with such topics as the role of Loyalist death squads in the culture of terror in Northern Ireland, the three-tier mechanism of state terror in Indonesia, the complex role of religion in violence by both the state and insurgents in Punjab and Kashmir, and the ways in which "disappearances" are used to destabilize and demoralize opponents of the state in Argentina, Guatemala, and India.


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State Terror and Anthropology
Paramilitary Death Squads and the Construction of State Terror in Spain
Dynamics of Terror in Punjab and Kashmir
Disappearance and Reburial in Argentina
The Case of Guatemala
The Culture of Terror and Loyalist Death Squads in Northern Ireland
An Anthropology of Indonesian State Terror in East Timor
7 Murdered or Martyred? Popular Evaluations of Violent Death in the Muslim Separatist Movement in the Philippines
Disappearances and Special Police Activity in Punjab
Death Squads and Wider Complicities Dilemmas for the Anthropology of Violence
List of Contributors

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About the author (2010)

Jeffrey A. Sluka is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Anthropology at Massey University in New Zealand. He is the author of Hearts and Minds, Water and Fish: Popular Support for the IRA and INLA in a Northern Irish Ghetto.