i s r f
b u l l e t i n
Society and Violence
Edited by Dr Lars Cornelissen
i s r f
b u l l e t i n
Society and Violence
First published December 2019 Copyright ÂŠ 2019 Independent Social Research Foundation
TABLE OF CONTENTS
EDITORIAL 4 DR. LARS CORNELISSEN
SPEAKING OF ELEPHANTS... 7 DR. LOUISE BRADDOCK
THE VIOLENCE OF CRIMINALISATION
DR. HENRIQUE CARVALHO
BREAKING FRAMES 13 DR. BETH EPSTEIN
THE VIOLENCE OF ACCUMULATION AND THE ACCUMULATION OF VIOLENCE 21 DR. JONATHAN SAHA
FORCE-OUT-OF-PLACE 27 ANDREW ROBERTSON
VIOLENCE AND AMBIVALENCE 33 DR. ELIZABETH FRAZER
EDITORIAL Dr. Lars Cornelissen ISRF Academic Editor
ver the past year, the ISRF has invited its fellows and associates to think through the problem of violence. Without forcing anyone to confront it directly, we let this question guide our thinking around the 2019 Annual Workshop, held in Oxford, as well as a number of smaller workshops and study days. Alongside many generative discussions this gave rise to two issues of the Bulletin: Mind and Violence, published in June of this year, and the one before you now. Entitled Society and Violence, the present issue seeks to continue the line of questioning set out in the former. One of the key questions posed in Mind and Violence was how violence impacts upon the human psyche. Which immaterial traces do violent encounters leave? How do individuals and collectives negotiate the complex afterlives of destruction or humiliation? And, conversely, in what ways does the human mind contort itself when seeking to justify, legitimise or otherwise rationalise violence? As the title suggests, the present issue explores violence as a social— or indeed societal—phenomenon. Here, the key issue is not so much where in society violence resides. That way of framing the question casts violence as an unambiguous social relation, an empirical datum that can be located amidst all of the other relations that constitute the social. The essays that make up this issue dig a little deeper, viewing acts of violence not as given but as disputed. Their wager is that the question(ing) of violence is immanent to the social domain itself, as the enactment of violence is inevitably accompanied by its problematisation or its justification, its identification or its denial, its critique or its embrace—in other words, its contestation. Liberally misquoting W.B. Gallie we might then say that violence is an essentially contested reality.1 1. The allusion is of course to W.B. Gallie, “Essentially Contested Concepts,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 56 (1955–1956): 167–198. 4
DR. LARS CORNELISSEN
The inherent instability of the notion of violence is at the heart of Henrique Carvalho’s contribution, which questions our collectively shared intuitions about the nexus between violence and crime. He argues that our tendency to assume that crime is a (physically) violent act not only makes us overlook crimes that cannot straightforwardly be understood as (physically) violent but also leads us to assume that certain modes of behaviour or even forms of identity are in and of themselves violent and therewith criminal. This gives rise to a normatively charged and racialised conception of criminality that demands to be critically deconstructed. Beth Epstein reflects in her essay on the social fabric of the communities populating the much-discussed (and indeed muchmisrepresented) banlieues of France. Contrasting state-led discourse on ‘mixing’ (mixité) to the everyday reality of diversity and solidarity, she brings into focus the veritable abyss that separates the French state’s position on racial and cultural difference and the lived experience of alterity. Two worlds collide here, and violence may or may not attend the tensions and antagonisms that result. As Epstein holds out, much hinges on our capacity to listen carefully to the voices that come out of those communities. Combining conceptual rigour with empirical depth, Jonathan Saha’s contribution reflects on violence’s tendency to accumulate. Taking elephant camps in colonial Myanmar as his case study, Saha traces how colonial practices were reliant upon the multiplication and reproduction of violence. Here, the collision of worlds is not merely premised upon past violent conquest; it also requires the maintenance of an economy of violence in the present, and likewise projects the unceasing accumulation of violence into the future. Alongside these three pieces, which all present research funded by the ISRF, this issue also features two contributions that adopt a more reflective position. Andrew Robertson’s piece reports on the proceedings of the Oxford workshop, introducing the reader to the main themes addressed there and situating the debates that were had against the backdrop of current affairs. Playfully mobilising Louise Braddock’s definition of violence as ‘force-out-of-place,’ his reflections weave in and out of the workshop proceedings even as they keep track 5
of emergent themes andâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;sometimes unspokenâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;common threads. Elizabeth Frazer, finally, was invited to reflect not on the workshop proceedings but on the contents of the issue before you now. She departs from the observation that the concept of violence is riddled with ambiguities, partly because violent relations are messy and confusing, partly because their analysis and interpretation is, inevitably, emotionally and normatively laden. The challenge for critical thinking on violence, then, is to remain aware of these ambiguities, to make sure that they inform rather than obstruct our deconstruction of the social world. Although she formulates it here specifically in relation to the question of violence, Frazerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s point resonates for all research that the ISRF funds. Indeed, insofar as real-world problems are by their very nature complex and acute, they are also, by extension, morally and analytically ambiguous. One of the key tasks of the ISRF is therefore to generate an environment in which the challenges that accompany this ambiguity may be faced collectively and constructively. As the Foundation is entering a period of no insignificant change, with its current (and first) Director of Research retiring in 2020, this mission will undoubtedly remain its foremost concern.
SPEAKING OF ELEPHANTS... Dr. Louise Braddock ISRF Director of Research
inding the title for this Bulletin took the Editor and me some time but in the end Society and Violence seemed to capture the idea that violence is intrinsically social, and to be broad enough to cover its protean workings at and below the whole social surface while also holding onto the thought that some of it comes up, so to speak, from below. Not all violence pertains to the polis even if ultimately it impacts there. But, while violence might be grounded in human nature the conundrum of violence is a social one; from the human point of view it is both enigmatic and normatively challenging. In this year’s annual workshop the normative aspect presented itself in the question of the right attitude to the conduct of research, to the description of violence and the modalities through which its affective impact can or should mediated; in the need for an ethic of respect in the research and in the discussion of it; and in the emotional demandingness of the research itself. It also requires a certain fortitude of mind to ‘call’ power on the truth of what goes on. This demands a fortitude which is equally emotional and intellectual; the research requires a determined, subtle and intelligent critique that will discern and articulate the hidden, indirect and camouflaged activity that is part of the enigmaticity of violence. Violence is also enigmatic because it is ambiguously related to speech. On the one hand violence can suppress speech, overtly or covertly, directly or indirectly. On the other hand, it stands in for speech; not only as humour or satire but when as a mode of communication of last resort it takes over when speech runs out. It can even mediate itself, performatively, to provide a pathway back into the public domain for what is unsaid or unsayable from prior violence; sometimes from its immediacy of scale but very often from the slowness of ‘slow’ violence, its unremarked accumulation over time. 7
speaking of elephants...
Such thoughts, arising from the workshop and from subsequent feedback—for which my best thanks—lead inexorably to the question of synthesis of approach. Violence is a Real-Life Problem all right, but how can the different social sciences, disciplinarily separated by theories, methodologies, methods, levels of scale and focus, ontological commitments and so on, ever come together to produce an intelligible approach to any complex social phenomenon, let alone one as ‘difficult’ as violence? How can interdisciplinarity in social science, however understood and pursued, be adequate to Very Large Problems? At such moments my thoughts stray to the well-worn story of the six blind men all convinced that their take on the elephant of their perceptual encounter is the authoritative one. You can draw the moral you want from it, pretty much, but although they were all dogmatic in their assertions at least they noticed the elephant. Another familiar trope makes the elephant, unremarked while nevertheless enormous, the un-spoken referent of discussion, figuring what we manage not to talk about. Not noticing is part of violence’s social effect, something that needs itself to be noticed if it is to be spoken about. It must then have been a nice change for our iconic pachyderms to appear at the workshop both entire- and centre-stage, as the subject of a presentation on accumulation as violence while also being emblematic of violence accumulated (force more-or-less precariously in place). Absent from the research proposal awarded for this midcareer fellowship, the elephants in the workshop neatly figured for us the importance of speaking about them.
THE VIOLENCE OF CRIMINALISATION Dr. Henrique Carvalho ISRF Early Career Fellow 2019–20
ublic perceptions of crime are permeated with the image of violent activities and of the dangerous people who perpetrate them; gangsters, terrorists, murderers and sex offenders being the most prominent examples. Violence in this sense is directly related to the idea of physical aggression and harm, which is either realised or threatened by the activities involved. Even beyond these extreme cases, criminals are commonly thought to be dangerous, and crime is almost inherently perceived to be violent. Even crimes that do not directly involve physical aggression tend to have an aura of violence around them, be it because of the harm that they reportedly cause to their victims (for instance, think of the fraudulent activity that deprives a pensioner of their lifelong savings), or because of the danger they might pose to public order and social relations. Prosecutors often rely on these images of dangerousness and violence to convince juries of the defendants’ guilt and criminal character. It is undeniable that the idea of violence is intimately connected with notions of crime. However, it is often easy to naturalise this connection, by assuming that certain activities—and certain individuals—are criminalised because they are violent, and that criminal law is simply reacting to such violence by regulating it and protecting the public from it. Instead, it is important to see this relation as complex and problematic, not only shaped by the context of crime but also having a significant role in shaping it in return. This short intervention aims to raise a few reflections focused on examining the complexities involved when unpacking the relationship between crime and violence. In particular, I am interested in discussing how an uncritical understanding and deployment of this violence-crime link contributes to perpetuating discrimination, marginalisation and miscarriages of justice in society. It is worth starting this reflection with a simple yet often neglected 9
the violence of criminalisation
note: that the violent character of certain activities, even in relation to the most serious crimes, is not self-evident. Rather, our conceptions of what constitutes violence, and especially unlawful (criminal) violence, are constructed; that is, they are conditioned by their social, cultural and historical context, and shaped by political pressures and power relations. For instance, a significant number of deaths is caused each year by industrial activities and commercial decisions, many of which in circumstances which could easily be described as violent, but these are rarely, if ever, deemed to be criminal. Why is it that it is easy to talk of murder when someone kills another person for financial profit, and so difficult to do the same when the death of several people is caused by the actions of a company? Even cases that attract a significant degree of public condemnation, such as the fire at Grenfell Tower in London in 2017, are only uneasily discussed as violent in nature, and rarely lead to criminal prosecutions.1 There is a myriad of harms, both individual and social, that go unrecognised by criminal justice institutions. Even those that might otherwise easily fit within an established form of crime can have their status as violent activities significantly contested. For instance, in formal terms, rape is considered one of the most serious and violent crimes in most legal systems, and in many jurisdictions, it is widely condemned. However, in practice, it is a crime that has very low conviction rates, even now that levels of detection, at least in many parts of the western world, are on the rise. Independently of the harm experienced by victims/survivors, perceptions of what constitutes rape are often tied to cultural values and social biases, which often lead to a reluctance to convict those who do not appear to fit into popular images of what constitutes a ‘violent offender’. But just as we are reluctant to see violence in circumstances that do not conform to preconceived ideas of crime and violence, the opposite is also true: we tend to infer the existence of crime, and to identify individuals as dangerous offenders, when circumstances link these activities and people to images that we recognise and accept as violent, even when that might not actually be the case. A prime example of 1. For a discussion of how and why the Grenfell fire should be characterised as social murder, see A. Norrie, ‘Legal and social murder: what’s the difference,’ Criminal Law Review 7 (2018): 531–542. 10
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that can be seen in relation to the treatment of gang violence by the criminal justice system in England and Wales. Gang violence has for decades now been identified as a serious social problem in the United Kingdom, a perception that has been made more acute in recent years, due to the rise in instances of knife crime.2 As a result, a broad range of different powers has been given to criminal justice agents to deal with gangs, including preventive measures such as gang injunctions and criminal laws aimed at facilitating criminalisation in these instances, such as the infamous law of joint enterprise.3 While it is impossible to deny the violence inherent to activities such as knife crime, it is also essential to appreciate how the way in which we interpret such violence, and indeed how we identify it as the result of individualised crimes, can misidentify the problem and lead to significant injustice. More specifically, linking this kind of violence with the activity of gangs leads to forms of criminalisation that disproportionately affect racialised and marginalised populations, as they are “reliant upon a ‘common-sense’, racialized and stereotypical discourse that links BAME [Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic] men with an involvement with gangs, drugs and violence”.4 This link generates a skewed perception of what this kind of violence involves and where it originates; as a result, not only are instances of knife crime that cannot be tied to BAME groups less likely to be detected and dealt with, but also, and most importantly, BAME individuals and groups are much more likely to be identified as ‘gang members’ and thus be targeted by criminalisation, even if they cannot be said to have committed any violence in the first place. “When it looks like a gang—and especially
2. Office for National Statistics, Crime in England and Wales: year ending June 2019 (2019). Available Online at https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/bulletins/crimeinenglandandwales/ yearendingjune2019 (Accessed 15 November 2019). 3. For a more detailed discussion of joint enterprise, see H. Carvalho, ‘Feeding the prison crisis through hostile criminalisation: the case of joint enterprise’ Prison Service Journal 243 (2019): 41–47; H. Carvalho, ‘Joint enterprise, hostility, and the construction of dangerous belonging,’ in: J. Anderson and J. Pratt (eds.), Criminal Justice, Risk and the Revolt against Uncertainty (London: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming 2020). 4. P. Williams and B. Clarke, Dangerous Associations: Joint Enterprise, Gangs and Racism (Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, 2016), 16. 11
the violence of criminalisation
when the police call it a gang—it must be a gang”.5 To understand how our conceptions of violence are constructed, and especially how they are linked to the notion of crime, we need to examine how these conceptions are underpinned by a series of social, cultural and political processes that emphasise certain kinds of violence, link them to certain types of individual and group, and identify them as criminal. This is an urgent matter, because the same processes that make visible and naturalise the individualised violence of crime also blind us to other, more pervasive—and, one could argue, more dangerous—kinds of violence upon which criminalisation depends. These include the structural violence embedded in contemporary societies, which preserves and promotes structures of inequality that, among many other things, protect patriarchal structures and socioeconomic exploitation, and the epistemic violence that makes society see and treat racialised and marginalised populations as dangerous criminals first, and human beings second—if at all. In short, before we can tackle the violence of crime, we need to seriously engage with the violence of criminalisation.
5. P. Squires, ‘Constructing the Dangerous, Black, Criminal ‘Other’,’ British Society of Criminology Newsletter 79 (2016): 1–4, 2. 12
BREAKING FRAMES Towards a “Habitable Multiculturalism” in the French Banlieue Dr. Beth Epstein ISRF Mid-Career Fellow 2018–19
n contemporary France, questions relating to diversity and social inequality and the way these map out across the centers and peripheries of the country’s metropoles have over the past few decades reached a fever pitch. Turning on the merits of the French republican project and/or the exclusionary consequences of its “difference-blind” ideal, these controversies play out most ostensibly in relation to the country’s disadvantaged suburbs or banlieues, districts that distil the preoccupations of an anxious France. Life in these neighborhoods however also dislodges the terms of these polemics. My current project entails exploring the experiences of people who live and work in these multi-ethnic districts as a means to unblock this entrenched debate. To lay out the terms relevant to this discussion, I begin with a video, available on YouTube, filmed in June 2015.1 The video shows roughly 50 people seated around a table in a seminar room at the University of Paris 8, most of them women in their 20s and 30s, black and white; the subject under discussion is “Féminismes et critiques postcoloniales.” Around five minutes into the video an angry exchange breaks out between the feminist activists Maya Surduts and Sharone Omankoy. Surduts, who died in 2016 at the age of 79, is known in France for her activism in support of women’s reproductive freedoms, and as spokesperson for the Collectif des Droits des Femmes founded in 1996. Omankoy, who at the time of the conference was 29, is one of the founders of the Mwasi Collectif, an afrofeminist collective created in 2014. The dispute between them followed Surduts’ defense of the movements of the 1980s and ’90s, which earlier her younger 1.
afroeuropean colleagues had castigated as “a white feminism that ignores the racial question and excludes black women and more generally non-white women.”2 “Le féminisme des femmes blanches,” Surduts replied, “I don’t know what that is.” Proceeding to defend 2nd wave feminism as an affair not of race but of a struggle against “domination, exclusion, discrimination,” she stated “it is more in these terms, in this dynamic, that we defined ourselves.” To this, Omankoy exclaimed “You are giving us history lessons… I’ve been to university, to the EHESS, I learned about feminism, but the Black Women’s Movement3 was not included. So my history, me, my identity, when do I write it, when? On what basis? You have your story, but what about us?”4 The exchange finished with Surduts and a few of her colleagues angrily leaving the room. This dispute lays bare the terms of a deep and thorny debate about racially-inflected social tensions that has become increasingly heightened over the past 15 years in France, and that shapes the terms of my current project. One of a handful of militant ethno-racial groups actively challenging the official “difference-blind” universalism of the French state, 5 the Mwasi Collective fits into a broader landscape of post-colonial critique that took a marked turn following the suburban uprisings of 2005.6 Made up mostly of young people born in France, many of whom grew up in the country’s disadvantaged suburbs, Mwasi and associated groups seek to bring attention to racism and their experience of it as part of a vital existential struggle: “and me, when do I get to write my history, when do I exist,” we hear Omankoy ask. Inspired by the writings of Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Kimberlé Crenshaw, the 2. Quoted in Silyane Larcher, “‘Nos vies sont politiques !’ L’afroféminisme en France ou la riposte des petites-filles de l’empire,” Participations, 19 (2017) 3: 97–127, my translation. 3. La coordination des femmes noires, founded in 1976. 4. Vous nous faites les leçons d’histoire... J’étais à l’université, à l’EHESS, j’ai appris les choses sur le féminisme, mais la Coordination des femmes noires n’y était pas. Donc mon histoire, moi, mon identité, je l’écris quand, je l’écris quand ? Sur quelle base ? Vous vous avez le vôtre, et nous ? 5. See also the Collectif Cases Rebelles, Sawtche—Collectif Afroféministe, and the Brigade Anti-Négrophobie. 6. See Jim Cohen, Elsa Dorlin, Dimitri Nicolaïdis, Malika Rahal, and Patrick Simon, “Dossier. Le tournant postcolonial à la française,” Mouvements 51 (2007) 3 : 7–12. 14
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Black Panthers, Angela Davis and others, these organizations situate their project in an anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, and anti-patriarchal framework that draws heavily on the US experience and on theory from what in France they call the “Anglo-Saxon” world.7 This, they say, is at least in part because the French intellectual establishment turns a deaf ear to their concerns, and offers little in the way of relevant critique to help shape their investigations. At the same time, they are aware that the French sociopolitical landscape offers challenges that are quite different from those present in the US; their struggle is thus also deeply tied to the need to “position themselves in a society that acts as if racism doesn’t exist”, and to open a space from which to stake a claim.8 As we hear in the debate cited above, however, the overtly raceconscious orientation of this work is also understood as politically dangerous by many who are equally engaged in the fight for social justice. More at ease conversing in the abstract language of “domination,” “exclusion” and “discrimination,” as Surduts put it, many in France refuse the overt racialization of these debates, and are deeply suspicious of the essentializing dangers that they see as latent in struggles for recognition and the identity politics to which they give rise.9 Such developments only serve, they claim, to polarize groups and 7. The US model figures broadly in many sides of this debate. Referenced often as an antithetical foil for French universalism—an example of what not to do in the organization of social difference—American racial histories and repertoires are also cited regularly by actors seeking alternate frameworks from which to think through these questions. See among others Beth Epstein, “Redemptive Politics: Racial Reasoning in Contemporary France,” Patterns of Prejudice 50 (2016) 2: 168–187; George M. Fredrickson, “Diverse Republics: French & American Responses to Racial Pluralism,” Daedalus 134 (2005): 88–101; Loïc Wacquant, “Banlieues françaises et ghetto noir américain. Eléments de comparison sociologique,” in: M. Wieviorka (ed.), Racisme et modernité (Paris: Editions de la Découverte, 1992). 8. Interview with Gerty Dambury, accessible at https://nyansapofest. org/ressources/. 9. See among others Jean-Loup Amselle, L’Occident décroché : enquête sur les postcolonialismes (Paris: Les éditions Pluriels, 2011); Jean-François Bayart, “Post-colonial studies, a political invention of tradition?” Public Culture 23 (2011) 1: 55–84; Michel Giraud, “The ‘Question of Blackness’ and the Memory of Slavery: Invisibility and Forgetting as Voluntary Fire and Some Pyromaniac Firefighters” in:Trica Danielle Keaton, T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, Tyler Stovall (eds.), Black France/France Noire: The History and Politics of 15
exacerbate extant social tensions. Indeed, Mwasi’s and other groups’ practices of “non-mixité,” which their members defend as necessary to their political advancement, have in particular come under fire as balkanizing and threatening to French republican values.10 Numerous “affairs,” scandals and talking heads serve regularly to deepen this schism, defined on the one hand by efforts to direct attention to racebased experiences of discrimination that are continually subsumed to an unsatisfactory status quo,11 and on the other, by concern about alarming trends toward ethnic retrenchment among peoples of all colors and on all sides of political debate.12 So what does all of this have to do with my current project? For the past 25 years I have followed these developments from a distance, an interest that began with ethnographic research that I conducted in the mid-1990s in an officially designated “sensitive urban zone” in a city outside of Paris. I am currently going back to that neighborhood, both to get caught up and see what has changed, and more notably to see how this tension plays out there on the ground. The French suburbs, I argue, despite the miserabilist image of them that is regularly broadcast in the press and considerable amounts of scholarship, add another and singularly important dimension to this debate. They do so both because they are so diverse—in the town where I work, officials speak proudly of their city as “multicultural” with over “140 nationalities”
Blackness (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012). 10. This came to a head in the summer of 2017 when Anne Hidalgo, the socialist mayor of Paris, threatened to shut down a festival organized by the Collective on the grounds that it was not mixed and therefore antithetical to French republican principles. This caused a bit of an embarrassment for Hidalgo when she learned that the original tweet condemning the festival on these grounds was composed by a member of the far-right National Front. 11. https://mwasicollectif.com/portfolio/declaration-politique/; see also Nancy Fraser, “Can Society Be Commodities All the Way Down? PostPolanyian Reflections on Capitalist Crisis,” in: Thomas Claviez (ed.) The Common Growl: Toward a Poetics of Precarious Community (New York: Fordham University Press, 2016); Achille Mbembe, “Provincializing France?,” Public Culture 23 (2011) 1: 85–119; Joan W. Scott, The Politics of the Veil (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007). 12. Beth Epstein, Romi Mukherjee, Janie Pélabay, and Réjane Sénac (eds.), “Special Issue, Dilemmas of Equality: Perspectives from France and the USA,” International Social Science Journal 223–224 (2017). 16
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present13—and because they are so “mixed,” a concept that in France carries particular significance. Indeed, mixité expresses more than the de facto confirmation that cities and towns are culturally plural because that is the way of the world these days, but rather that they should be deliberately so—because “mixing” is considered good for society, because it is mixing that helps build “solidarity” and mutual assistance, because it is mixing that helps preclude against segmentation and social breakdown. As many have pointed out, mixing and/or integration are eminently political concepts that lie at the center of the debate about how diversity should be articulated in France. Implicated in the making and marking of difference, aggressive state-directed integration policies comprise practices of exclusion and belonging via their definition of who needs integrating and how this is best to be done.14 The strong ideological and moral valence placed on “mixing” moreover renders overtly differentialist positions problematic, as evidenced in on-going debates about “communitarism” in France and the supposed dangers it poses to the higher order project of building the collective core. I argue however that what goes on in the French suburbs can also allow for a different view, that these polemics hide from sight. What draws me to the suburbs are the efforts I see there of people striving to craft a viable and engaged social fabric made up of their multiple parts, that engages seriously with the French republican injunction to “transcend difference” in the public sphere without necessarily succumbing to it. The desire of local residents to locate their shared 13. This is a notable development, as 25 years ago the word “multicultural” was never even uttered, even as the city was just as diverse then as it is now. 14. Beth Epstein, Collective Terms: Race, Culture, and Community in a State-Planned City in France (New York: Berghahn Books, 2011); Mayanthi L. Fernando, “Exceptional citizens: secular muslim women and the politics of difference in France,” Social Anthropology 17 (2009) 4: 379–392; Neil MacMaster, “The ‘seuil de tolérance’: The Uses of a Scientific Racist Concept” in: M. Silverman (ed.), Race, Discourse & Power in France (Aldershot, UK: Gower Publishing Co., 1991); Olivier Masclet, “Une municipalité communiste face à l’immigration algérienne et marocaine, Gennevilliers, 1950–1972,” Genèses 4 (2001) 45: 150–163; Sylvie Tissot, Sylvie, “‘Une ‘discrimination informelle’ ? Usages du concept de mixité sociale dans la gestion des attributions de logements HLM,” Actes de la Recherche en Sciences Sociales 159 (2005): 54–69. 17
interest is more than just pretty talk, but embraced by many as vital to the well-being of their town and necessarily the way to build their collective way forward. Their embrace of the vivre ensemble, which can take many forms, includes strategies to promote entrepreneurial self-help, to encourage what they call “solidarity” across ethnic and generational lines, to build local-global alliances, and to mock national stereotypes about the communitarist threat to republican values in the banlieue. These strategies both resist and accommodate neoliberal reforms, and stand in pointed contrast to the entre-soi, the welldocumented tactics adopted by the elite classes to live in endogamous isolation.15 Paul Gilroy among others has put out a call for a new humanism, or what he calls a “habitable multiculturalism,” that recognizes the violence of past and present racial and colonial histories without then reproducing and/or becoming subject to the racial orders that undergird them. Arguing for the “need to appreciate and perhaps also cultivate exposure to alterity as something beyond mere plurality and something apart from loss, anxiety, and risk,”16 he and others strive to locate an ethics that can tie the claims of a critical politics of recognition to a broader project of universal emancipation.17 The antagonisms articulated in the encounter I start with above illustrate this tension. They reflect both a compromised republicanism, further corroded by the aggressive market logics of global capitalism, and the need and/or desire on the part of many to locate a new common ground. These are challenges that people living in the mixed and lively neighborhoods of the French banlieue wrestle with in the course of their everyday. Staying attuned to that experience, I argue, can help 15. Fabien Desage, “‘Un peuplement de qualité’. Mise en œuvre de la loi SRU dans le périurbain résidentiel aisé et discrimination discrète,” Gouvernement et action publique 3 (2016) 3: 83–112 ; Michel Pinçon & Monique Pinçon-Charlot, Sociologie de la bourgeoisie (Paris: La Découverte, 2016). See also https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2019/06/21/sommes-nousmoins-francais-parce-que-nous-vivons-de-l-autre-cote-du-peripherique_5479415_3232.html 16. Paul Gilroy, “Antiracism and (re)humanization,” in: Claviez (ed.) The Common Growl, op. cit., 113. 17. See also https://www.theoryculturesociety.org/conversation-achille-mbembe-and-david-theo-goldberg-on-critique-of-black-reason/#_ftn1; and Fraser, “Can Society Be Commodities All the Way Down?” 18
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shine light on what has otherwise become an entrenched reading of race, diversity, and social inequality in our times.
THE VIOLENCE OF ACCUMULATION AND THE ACCUMULATION OF VIOLENCE Dr. Jonathan Saha ISRF Mid-Career Fellow, 2018–19
rom at least as early as Karl Marx, histories of capital accumulation have drawn attention to the violence that attends it. Marx’s formulation of “so-called primitive accumulation” was plotted through the forcible dispossession of English peasants. In her critique of Marx’s formulation, Rosa Luxemburg drew out the centrality of imperialistic military expansions and state force in facilitating capital accumulation. Eric Williams foregrounded the systematic, racialised violence of slavery in the capital accumulation that laid the groundwork for the English industrial revolution. More recently, David Harvey has made the case for the centrality of violent dispossession as a perennial dynamic in capital accumulation. And scholars such as Donna Haraway and Jason Moore have highlighted the forms of violence accompanying capital accumulation that have affected other creatures beyond humans alone. 1 It seems that studies of accumulation necessarily entail an analysis of the violence that enables and perpetuates accumulation. Without wanting to play down this important area of study, it is possible—and perhaps productive—to reverse this line of enquiry to ask: can violence itself accumulate? That is, to examine how violence, and physical bodily violence in particular, has been iteratively reproduced in an expanded form over time. 1. Karl Marx, Capital, trans. by Ben Fowkes (New York: Vintage Books, 1977), i; Rosa Luxemburg, The Accumulation of Capital (London: Routledge, 2003); Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (London: Deutsch, 1964); David Harvey, The New Imperialism, Clarendon Lectures in Geography and Environmental Studies (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016); Jason W. Moore, ‘The Capitalocene, Part I: On the Nature and Origins of Our Ecological Crisis’, The Journal of Peasant Studies, 44.3 (2017), 594–630. 21
the violence of accumulation and the accumulation of violence
Histories of British imperialism over the last twenty years have been reinvigorated by breaking down the staid geographic model of an imperial core impacting upon a colonised periphery, in favour of conceptualising empires in terms of networks and circulations. 2 I contend that further possibilities might be opened up by considering the concept of accumulation as an analytical lens for scholars of imperialism. This is not to advocate a return to critical political economic analyses of the relations between imperialism and world capitalism, at least not alone. Instead, the concept of accumulation can be abstracted from its application to capital and deployed to understand the movement of objects, knowledge and social practices in Empire. As historians of these different aspects of imperialism have demonstrated, violence was present in the imperial accumulation of objects, knowledge and social practices. Looting and imperial wars constituted the provenance of much of Britain’s contemporary museum collections of artefacts. The construction of colonial knowledge has been studied as a form of epistemic violence that often relied upon the deployment of physical violence on the bodies of the colonised. And everyday violence was necessary for the establishment and maintenance of racial and gendered hierarchies in colonised societies. We might glean insights about the accumulation of violence itself by focusing on one particular site in the imperial accumulation of capital, objects, knowledge and social practices: the elephant camp. British imperialism in Myanmar was a more-than-human affair, as it was across the globe. Asian elephants were particularly entangled and affected by colonial rule. In the late-nineteenth century and earlytwentieth century, colonial Myanmar became one of the world’s largest exporters of hardwoods, particularly teak. Large British timber firms dominated the industry in the colony, in no small part because of their domination of the elephant market. The extraction of teak in remote forests relied upon elephant labour. Their dexterity, strength and ability to work with humans enabled the felling, in-country transportation, processing and shipping of the teak. Here then, elephants not only enabled the accumulation of capital; they were themselves a form of capital to be acquired and deployed in the labour process. They were, of course, not willing workers. Their capture was only 2. Alan Lester, ‘Imperial Circuits and Networks: Geographies of the British Empire’, History Compass, 4.1 (2006), 124–141. 22
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J. H. Williams, Elephant Bill (London: Hart-Davis, 1950). 23
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possible through violent methods, such as driving them into pits, snaring them, or corralling them into stockades. Their employment was coerced through a regime of routine physical violence. Their training entailed deliberate starvation and corrective beatings in order to instil obedience. Their work was physically demanding and they were directed, in part, through the repeated infliction of pain. Outside of work, their movements were limited through the use of physical restraints on their limbs, keeping them “semi-captive”. Violence was not the only tool at the disposal of Burmese elephant drivers and timber firms, however, as elephants’ physical needs had to be met and affectionate relations were established across the species divide.3 Nevertheless, this was a routine of “violent care”.4 This physical violence not only enabled the accumulation of capital, it was central to the production and circulation of some quintessentially imperial artefacts in Britain and across the Empire, such as teak furniture. More macabrely, the elephant camps were a site for the accumulation of elephant remains. This could take the form of ivory tusks, either as commodities or scientific specimens. It also took the form of gruesome furniture, such as stools made from elephants’ feet. The elephant camp was also a site for the appropriation and generation of colonial knowledge. European supervisors employed by British timber firms learned about common elephant ailments and methods of treatments from their Burmese workers, and compiled these findings into their own textbooks. Imperial scientists also used the elephant camps in Myanmar’s forests to conduct veterinary experiments, eventually producing a vaccine for anthrax in elephants. And, in addition to these accumulations of capital, objects, and knowledge, these elephant camps expanded certain social practices. In the camps of British timber firms a clear hierarchy was maintained between white, 3. Jonathan Saha, ‘Colonizing Elephants: Animal Agency, Undead Capital and Imperial Science in British Burma’, BJHS Themes, 2 (2017), 169–89; Jonathan Saha, ‘Do Elephants Have Souls? Animal Subjectivities and Colonial Governmentality’, in South Asian Governmentalities, ed. by Stephen Legg and Deana Heath (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), pp. 159–77; Jonathan Saha, ‘Among the Beasts of Burma: Animals and the Politics of Colonial Sensibilities, c.1840-1950’, Journal of Social History, 48.4 (2015), 933–55. 4. Thom Van Dooren, Flight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014). 24
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European supervisors and Burmese employees. This extended the bureaucratic divisions of the colonial state into the commercial sphere. The camps were also the primary site in which a particular performative masculine archetype was produced and reproduced, the so-called “jungle wallah”. This was a supposedly hardy, stoic and manly figure who could thrive in the solitude and privations of Myanmar’s remote forests. Although each of these accumulations (the accumulation of objects, knowledge and social practices) could be linked to capital accumulation, the ways in which they were reproduced and expanded was distinct from and not determined by the logic of capital. Expanding the concept of accumulation to analyse violence itself, and particularly physical bodily violations, also enables us to also uncover the relative autonomy of its expanded reproduction. The violence of keeping elephants in forest camps was not one-directional. Through their resistance to their captivity and labour, elephants could, and did, attack and harm their human co-workers, overwhelmingly their Burmese riders. In at least one instance an elephant employed in a British timber firm killed five riders before being deemed unworkable. As timber exploitation expanded, the violent regimes in which both elephants and human Burmese workers were made vulnerable to one another also expanded. As the firms sought harder-to-reach timber in depleted forests, their elephant power needed sustaining and growing, with the numbers of creatures brought into these violent relations approaching 10,000 by the 1940s. This was a regime of routinised bodily violence that can be mapped as it spread and moved in the colony. And focusing on the expanded reproduction (or accumulation) of this regime of “subjective violence”, as Slavoj Žižek calls it, 5 can help uncover both the deeper “systemic violence” and the more abstract “epistemic violence” at work. It reveals how elephants, and the Burmese human workers attending them, were made vulnerable; the former existentially so through the ecological destruction of their forest homes and the unsustainable depletion of wild populations through capture. It also reveals the ways in which elephants were re-imagined as resources for exploitation and the recasting of Burmese elephant knowledge to facilitate their exploitation.
Slavoj Žižek, Violence (London: Profile, 2008). 25
the violence of accumulation and the accumulation of violence
Studies of imperialism that focus on the circulations of people, objects and ideas across a networked empire do not necessarily preclude analysis of violence. However, such a focus does not inherently keep violence in the frame. By contrast, a focus on violence is embedded in accumulation as a concept. It may also be productive to consider physical violence itself as something that accumulates. The study of the accumulation of these routine inflictions of pain and bodily violations may, in turn, enable us to uncover complimentary histories of systemic and epistemic violenceâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;all too often forms of violence either valorised or marginalised in academic studies in contrast to the study of physical violence.
FORCE-OUT-OF-PLACE Reflections on the ISRF Annual Workshop 2019, “The Question of Violence” Andrew Robertson Andrew Robertson is a freelance editor and teaches on a political/media literacy programme for pre-university students
o begin at the end: I found the formulation of violence as “force out of place” (offered by the Director of Research) a productive thought for the closing session. My immediate association was with the concept of dirt, which Mary Douglas once defined as “matter out of place”.1 For the unprecedented numbers of human beings on the move—whether as voluntary migrants, internally displaced persons or refugees—being spoken of and treated as matter-out-of-place is, well, commonplace. The same is true of many overlapping experiences of colonization, labour, and incarceration. Lauren Martin and Ilay Ors showed how waves of migration overlap with each other and with previous histories of containment, for example where new arrivals are crammed into former prisons and mental hospitals, or forced into cashless economies. Not for nothing does Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago refer, with bitterest irony, to “A history of our sewage disposal system”.2 (Are the water metaphors we have just used, or as they appear in the tabloid press, any less dehumanizing? What about “cesspools” of crime?) Speaking of prison literature, the penultimate session threw up Gramsci (courtesy of Andrea Ruggeri) but also a surprising number of references 1. Mary Douglas in Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Purity and Taboo (London: Routledge, 1966). 2. Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918–1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, trans. T.P. Whitney (New York: Harper & Row, 1974), chapter 2. 27
to fiction and Russian fiction (Elizabeth Frazer discussed War and Peace) as supreme expressions of violence and our understandings of it: in other words, recommended reading for social scientists. I thought of the backwater physician in Chekhov’s story Ward Six, who aspires to evidence-based practice but is starved of conversation, and falls into the dangerous habit of participant observation. And Chekhov’s medical student in A Nervous Breakdown revising for exams, idly painting the internal organs onto the skin of a prostitute who is doomed (by the gentry, by inequality) to disease. Etymologically, and like matter-out-of-place, force-out-of-place is suggestive of a close relationship between violence and obscenity. This was something touched upon by several of the research presentations, as well as group discussions and artistic performances: issues of euphemism and dirty language (including gesture, sick jokes, officialese) for distasteful reality; degrees of “un/say-ability”; sexual violence as constitutive or side-effect of policy; “dirty wars”. Among them Martin Thomas and Deana Heath on colonial violence in Algeria and India respectively, and Catherine Charrett on Palestine and the Oslo Accords. In short, someone or their actions could be out of place as a matter of geography or culture, law, ethics or aesthetics. War and empire produce lasting ruptures across all these domains, and more. On the smaller scale, any experience of social mixing may produce a feeling of being out of place. Several participants reported suffering “impostor syndrome” in the academy, or particularly when studying violence without knowing if it makes a positive difference. Social research itself can be a form of violence. But so too, I suppose, can its absence be. Among the crimes of war—or everyday governance—is to make someone out of place wherever they are: to render them stateless, nameless and faceless; or as shown in Greg Constantine’s portraits of Myanmar’s Rohingya, at the same time the opposite: named, documented and photographed to excess, by an excess of the state (obliterating individuals, communities and cultures). The medieval formula for excommunication made a similar point: damnation attached to every part of a person’s body, at all times and in the course 28
of all bodily functions. 3 In the bureaucracy-enabled age, whether through card indexes, hate radio, or the bureaucracy in your pocket (social media), the spectre of concentration camps never fully recedes. Daria Martin’s film Tonight the World retrieved the trauma of forced displacement in the face of Nazism through the unusual route of a grandmother’s dream diaries (and Mark Whitehead looked at why some are quitting the biggest collective diary in history, Facebook). But after the Twentieth Century’s horrors how do we get there, again, of all places? In the pre-conference event we had listened to militarization as lived experience (Lucy Newby; Sophy Gardner): for militaries and paramilitaries, even for minors who are not (or not yet) recruited, and we discussed that this involves detachment—even dissociation. But, the two last sessions insisted, violence also has to do with attachment— hence our basic human capacities and how they are first acquired. Between the two is an ambiguity in the concept, and an ambivalence in our attitudes (Elizabeth Frazer). Many would agree that force has a place in some situations, genuine self-defence among them. And for many of us this extends to the use of lethal force. This suggests further formulations: violence as “force-out-of-place-in-place” (just war or just violation, as variously discussed by Cian O’Driscoll, Craig Jones and Rita Floyd) versus “force-out-of-place-out-of-place” (wars of aggression; wars on your own population or biosphere—Peter Newell, Alexander Stingl and Jonathan Saha presented on environmental themes). Violence can be a challenge to order, or it can be part of the order. For Max Weber, the state is that which has a monopoly on the legitimate use of… force-out-of-place. Significantly, he attaches legitimacy via a successful claim to the monopoly on the authorization of the use of violence, not the violence directly, hence the legitimacy involves a positive (empirical) element.4 3. As recorded by Ernulf, Bishop of Rochester: ‘May he be cursed wherever he be, whether in the house or the stables, the garden or the field, or the highway, or in the path, or in the wood, or in the water, or in the church. May he be cursed in living, in dying, in eating and drinking, in hungering and thirsting, in fasting, in sleeping, in slumbering, in walking, in standing, in sitting, in lying, in working, in resting, in pissing, in shitting, and in bloodletting. May he be cursed in all the faculties of his body…’. 4. ‘Today the relation between the state and violence is an especially intimate one. In the past, the most varied institutions beginning with the sib have known the use of physical force as quite normal. Today, however, we 29
Whether to call dispossession “economic/slow/structural violence” was not a matter of complete consensus, but other research along these lines included Sarah Marie Hall on reproductive inequality (focusing on childlessness) under austerity; Alan Thomas on the winners and losers of post-2008 global financial policy; Robin Smith on monopoly and coercive demonetization in Croatian agriculture; and Gábor Scheiring on Hungary’s double transition from state socialism to its vaunted illiberal democracy. Perhaps we did not discuss anti-EU, illiberal democracy ‘closer to home’ in the UK, because there are so many other interesting and urgent things to discuss (and of course, distracting the public with English nationalism for three years and counting may have something to do with this). But for me and no doubt for others, Brexit was an invisible thread connecting many of the presentations—not least Michael Waite’s account of the BNP (British National Party, now defunct) when it was elected to local government in Burnley, and Burn/t Out, Casey Asprooth-Jackson and Brendan Ciarán Browne’s exhibition about displacement in Northern Ireland. The latter reminded us how far polarization can go: to a point where loss of a home comes far down the list of deserving traumas and griefs. 5 Those based in mainland Great Britain do need reminding, it seems, despite Northern Ireland having been thoroughly criss-crossed by social science (compounding what local inhabitants refer to as a sort of collective “memory fatigue”). On this side of the Irish Sea, Belfast’s pristine street murals remain the have to say that is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory (…) at the present time, the right to use physical force is ascribed to other institutions or to individuals only to the extent to which the state permits it.’ (Emphases added.) Max Weber, Politics as a Vocation (1918), <http://fs2.american.edu/ dfagel/www/Class%20Readings/Weber/PoliticsAsAVocation.pdf> 5. What makes the downplaying of historic forced displacement in Northern Ireland striking, perhaps, is that housing inequalities were among the proximate causes of inter-communal conflagration in the late 1960s. Arguably, mass homelessness has been gradually normalized in mainland Britain since the 1980s, but in circumstances that can be presented as apolitical and largely the results of failures and choices at a personal level. Jacob ReesMogg’s statement that Grenfell Tower victims lacked the “common sense” to disobey the London Fire Brigade’s stay-put policy (early in the 2019 general election campaign) is only the starkest example of that. Rees-Mogg subsequently apologised and adopted a lower profile. 30
faithful prop of television news; political graffiti was Athena Hadji’s subject, and specifically, its selective erasure in a politically sensitive site of Athens.6 Another theme that did not come up much was violence as part of nature, nature as red in tooth and claw, or humans as “naterally wicious”.7 Alexander Stingl’s discussion of global biomass policy, for example, was very much focused on the institutions—such as corporate law firms—that draw the boundaries of nature in practice. Many of the presentations having an empirical focus, the articulation of a unifying theoretical framework for violence at different scales was not of central concern (Claudio Lanza on mimetic rivalry was among the exceptions). There may also have been a collective concern not to legitimize violence by naturalizing it; the panel discussions kept their distance from both rational choice accounts and “spontaneous” violence, instead emphasizing social organization with specific histories. So what stage of history, of violence-accumulation or accumulationviolence (to follow Jonathan Saha) are we in now? Hyper-specialization (including in universities), risk management, possibly even a weaponization of everyday life (branding as identity, or love-out-ofplace), even where there is relative stability. During the group work on violence and humour, many of us reflected on the populist turn as a kind of false comic relief, whereby entrepreneurs of entertainment and transgression (politicians as comedians, clowns or licensed fools—but who take risks with others, not themselves) are adept at by turns ventilating and ramping up the tensions in our societies. Populism, then, can involve humour-out-of-place. If it also carries the threat of authoritarianism—not allowing people to think—then a narrowing of humour (toward that which is threat- or rivalry-based, or instrumentalised) might be among the cultural casualties. In 6. And on that basis (foregrounding paramilitary motifs) convey a city apparently looking to the past. But there are many murals in Belfast that contest this, and look instead to a less divided future. 7. A recurring phrase in Great Expectations. See Chapter 5 of Peter Brooks, Reading for the Plot: Design and Intention in Narrative (Harvard University Press, 1992) on the manifestations of repressive order in Dickens’ novel. 31
authoritarian regimes, laughter has been much studied as a form of non-violent resistance, escapism, compromise or concession to truthtelling. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Explaining the jokeâ&#x20AC;? aside, participants did maintain their own sense of humour: a necessary piece of equipment for social enquiry.
VIOLENCE AND AMBIVALENCE Dr. Elizabeth Frazer ISRF Academic Advisor
he thought that ‘violence’ is ‘force out of place’ (Louise Braddock’s formulation, as cited by Andrew Robertson) makes of violence a normative concept—that is, calling an action, an event, a process, or a relationship violent is evaluative, it already implies wrongfulness, badness, deviance. Many thinkers and actors go along with that. State authorities have traditionally called the actions of their military and civil personnel ‘force’, claiming the legitimacy, by legal authorisation, of powers of arrest, imprisonment, physical injury, and the like by officers. But legitimacy is claimed here also by the rhetorical device of differentiation and distinction. The selfsame actions or events that are violent if perpetrated by an ordinary person are force if perpetrated by a police officer. Perhaps more strikingly, activists and critical thinkers also go along with this distinction, insofar as they are concerned to re-classify some allegedly violent actions and events as force. The resistance of protesting groups and classes to the authority and domination that oppresses, exploits and injures should properly be seen as political power and effort, it can be argued. To be sure, sometimes the dynamics of state, authoritative, force in conflict with civil, resistant, force mean an escalation to violence. To understand this as a conflict between state force on the one hand, and social violence on the other, though—which is how disorder in the context of demonstrations or strikes is frequently represented by state authorities and by conventional and social media alike—is unjustly to deny the legitimacy of social force for political purposes. It is also wrongly to allocate responsibility and blame for violence to deviant social actors, rather than to violent state officers and institutions. So this idea that force can be justified and legitimate, but that perpetrated by the wrong persons, or for the wrong purposes, or in the wrong—excessive, uncontrolled, overly injurious—manner it is violence, and wrongful or bad, has plausibility. A difficulty with such analysis, 33
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though, is that it leaves the idea of ‘justified violence’ as a null category. Yet, surely, violence can sometimes be justified, just as sometimes it might not be. We cannot really be satisfied by a conceptual analysis according to which violence cannot be rightful. All this highlights what I think is the inevitable ambivalence in our thinking which holds both that violence is wrong and that some identifications wrongfully deny that violence is violence in order to evade censure; and that violence might be right, and also might be wrong, and that tracking violence as such is not, in itself, to track what is blameworthy. This ambivalence about violence is matched by an inevitable ambiguity in our conceptualisations of it. A violent action, event, process or relationship will be of such force, velocity and suddenness that it is unevadable by sufferers, and is normally injurious to those sufferers. This, the history of political thinking reveals, is the anchor conceptualisation of violence, the core theme on which variations are played, and from which expansions of the concept proceed. Violence is not necessarily injurious: it can fail to injure, because the recipient is so resilient or resistant, or because of luck, or because of ineptitude on the part of the perpetrator. But such failure does not make the process, event, action or relationship non-violent. Counterfactually, violence injures. A further pressing puzzle about the logic of violence is the push—an ethical push, and a theoretical one—to reason backwards from injury to infer that the process, action, event or relationship that caused it must have been violent. The thought that structured distributions of goods and bads, benefits and burdens, advantages and disadvantages account for premature deaths, for suffering and want—for injury—makes the thought that structures therefore are violent pressing. But logically that violence causes, or even is, injury, does not entail or imply that all injury is caused by, or is an element of violence. There might be other ways of injuring, other causes of injury. Obviously, the point is that there is ethical and political reason to judge that structurally determined injury is blameworthy. This is reason to name the process that injures ‘violence’—as we have seen, that name already encompasses censure. The allocation of responsibility is a political, as much as an ethical or legal matter; the identification of an action, relationship, or process as violent is, itself, a political move. But those who oppose structurally determined injury politically are liable—especially if their political action takes the form of protest—to 34
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be accused of violence themselves. Such ambiguities in interpretations and constructions of violence are evident in Robertson’s reflections on the Question of Violence, and in the other contributions to this Bulletin. In commonplace discourses and practices, the identification of crime with violence, and the identification of violence with a certain kind of person, means in the first place that terrible crimes are overlooked, omitted from the social and political imagination of crime; and second that persons stereotypically associated with ‘violent crime’ are stigmatised and even criminalised by association, independent of any actions of theirs. Henrique Carvalho, in his contribution here, considers the delimited social constructions of both crime and violence such that the acts and omissions of corporations—injurious and deadly though they demonstrably are—are outwith the scope of either category. Jonathan Saha looks back to the Marxist identification of primitive accumulation— of territory, people, resources—as a key moment of violence, going on to focus on how colonial accumulation is, among other things, an accumulation of violence: a building up of a stock of violent practices, violent assumptions, violent relationships, not only between colonisers and colonised people, but also violence perpetrated on animals, on landscapes, on the world. This accumulation means that commodities, artefacts, objects are not only condensations of labour, as in Marxist theory, and the objects of exchange and circulation, but should be analysed as condensations, accumulations, of violence. Both Saha and Carvalho urge the perception of violence in places and phenomena hitherto thought of as innocent of violence. Beth Epstein considers the contestations in (some) French political discourse and practice, challenging the denial of racism, and state and elite ignoring of structures and patterns of ethnic and cultural difference and disadvantage. Some black women’s groups practice political separatism for the sake of organisation and empowerment by resisting the state-administered, violent policies of integration (which have always co-existed, of course, with elite spatial isolation in suburbs and centres of wealth, and accumulation by endogamy). But Epstein finds in certain banlieues a practical, civic living together—a viable challenge to political separatism, elite segregation, and forcible integration alike. Although she is far less focussed than Saha or 35
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Carvalho on re-cognition, re-identification, or re-location of violence, nevertheless this analysis is suggestive of the violence of integration and segregation respectively, and the possibility of a non-violent social, political, life.
This issue features: Henrique Carvalho Beth Epstein Jonathan Saha Andrew Robertson Elizabeth Frazer