Category Archives: Conflict and Peace

Nicola Perugini – The Apparatus of Distinction and the Ethics of Violence: On the Construction of Liminal Subjects and Spaces

PTRG seminar series: 14 Dec 2016

Photo: Moyan Brenn

The last Political Theory Research Group seminar of 2016 brings Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon’s interesting paper The Apparatus of Distinction and the Ethics of Violence into discussion. At the very beginning of the paper, the authors quote that “Enemy Leaders look like everyone else. Enemy combatants look like everyone else” and it is this new reality of modern wars that challenges the notion that we are able to make distinctions between combatant and non-combatant, and military and civilian sites. In this paper, they argue that, due to the introduction of the new technology, a status of liminal subjects and spaces is created to legitimize the violence in war. Continue reading

Akwugo Emejulu – Women of Colour’s Agency and White Ignorance: Thinking through Erasure and Resistance

Political Theory Research Group series 2016/17: 26 October

Kara Walker - A Subtlety (source: metacynic on Flickr (CC BY 2.0))

Kara Walker – A Subtlety (source: metacynic on Flickr (CC BY 2.0))

Akwugo Emejulu provided a chapter for discussion from her forthcoming book on the effects of austerity on minority women in France and Britain. In this chapter she, together with her co-author Leah Bassel, sets out the ways in which notions of political racelessness reproduce and legitimate violent erasure and exclusion of minority women from the European polity. Of particular concern is the role the white European left plays in perpetuating political racelessness to the detriment of such excluded groups. The chapter also reflects on how minority women can respond to these European commitments that have enabled post-colonial amnesia and white ignorance.

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Maximilian Jaede – Thomas Hobbes’s Proto-Liberal Conception of Peace

Political Theory Research Group series 2016/17: 28 September

Thomas Hobbes Credit: Skara kommun (CC BY 2.0)

Thomas Hobbes (credit: Skara kommun (CC BY 2.0))

Maximillian Jaede’s paper “Thomas Hobbes’s Proto-Liberal Conception of Peace” is an introductory chapter to a larger book project of the same title. In the chapter, he argues that there are more points of convergence between Hobbesian and liberal conceptions of peace than we might think. Indeed, although ‘Hobbesian realism’ and ‘liberalism’ are often characterised as rivals, a Hobbesian vision of peace is best seen as proto-liberal.

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Catherine Lu – Justice and Reconciliation in International Relations

Political Theory Research Group seminar series: 19 Apr 2016

Slavery monument, Zanzibar Photo: Seyemon

Slavery monument, Zanzibar
Photo: Seyemon

How should we think theoretically and historically about the aftermath of conflicts? In a chapter from her forthcoming book Justice and Reconciliation in International Relations, Catherine Lu argues that two distinct frameworks for rectifying historic injustice can contribute through a fruitful interaction: interactional injustice and structural injustice. In the literature, the focus is usually on an interactional framework, in which a direct line of responsibility and wrongdoing by one party upon another is mapped. For instance, in the Iraq War civilians who lost family members due to US bombings could be given monetary compensation. Continue reading

Bashir Saade – ISIS and Game of Thrones: The Global between Tradition, Identity and the Politics of Spectacle

Political Theory Research Group seminar series: 6 Apr 2016

Photo: Anonymous Iraqi citizens in Iraq

Bashir Saade’s paper offers a far-reaching discussion of issues surrounding identity, authority, and tradition, considered with reference to ISIS. A central objective of Bashir’s paper is to examine the relationship between modern audio-visual technologies and cultural identities, more specifically he looks to address how ISIS combines cutting edge AV practices with repeated attempts to harken back to historical social configurations. Related to this is his attempt to assess the extent to which ISIS can be said to be an Islamic organisation. Here he considers how ISIS ideologues employ highly selective excerpts from scriptural and historical texts in order to legitimise acts of extreme violence. Continue reading

The Crimean crisis: justified secession, Russian aggression or both?

The current standoff in the Crimea raises a number of philosophical problems.  The first is whether regions within countries have a right to secede and if so under what conditions.  In their condemnation of the deployment of Russian troops, Western politicians have been keen to stress the importance of Ukrainian territorial integrity.  But why should we judge Ukrainian territorial integrity so important?  Most people seem to think that if the majority within a defined region wish to secede, that region has a right to secede, perhaps especially if has a history of independence and if the majority of its inhabitants are of a distinct ethnic or national group.  Thus most people seem to think that David Cameron was not only right, but also obligated, to sign the Edinburgh Agreement that paved the way for the Scottish independence referendum.  In their view, Scotland has a right to secede.  As I indicated in a previous article, I am far from convinced, but if we assume the truth of this pro-secessionist sentiment, the implication seems to be that Crimea also has a right to secede.  Continue reading

Human rights and ethics in a crowded planet

Any renewal of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has to acknowledge the fact that we live in a crowded planet – crowded in the sense that the demands placed by the world’s human population on its ecological space are such that some members do not have adequate for their health and well-being.

The growth of human numbers is clearly a major concern, but in framing that concern we need to think carefully how the naturalistic element of the problem – the size of a population in relation to its ecological support system – is affected by the social relations that distribute rights of access to it.  The connection between the ecological and the social is not always reflected on clearly, if at all, in discussions of human rights and ethics. Continue reading