The Cultural Violence of Non-violence


Springs, Jason A. (2016) The Cultural Violence of Non-violence. Journal of Mediation & Applied Conflict Analysis, 3 (1). pp. 16-33. ISSN 2009-7170

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Abstract

This paper explores the difference it makes to incorporate the multi-focal conception of violence that has emerged in peace studies over recent decades into the discourse of non-violent direct action (Galtung 1969, 1990; Uvin 2003; Springs 2015b). I argue that non-violent action can and should incorporate and deploy the distinctions between direct, cultural, and structural forms of violence. On one hand, these analytical distinctions can facilitate forms of self-reflexive critical analysis that guard against certain violent conceptual and practical implications of non-violence, however inadvertent those may be. At the same time, these lenses help reconceptualize non-violent action in ways that open up an array of strategies and tools not previously prevalent among activists committed to non-violence. Non-violent action may itself be either complicit in, or might be enabled to illuminate and cut against, forms of violence that infuse social, political, and economic structures (i.e. structural violence). Appeals to non-violence and the actions with which they interweave may be complicit in, or might be enabled to illuminate and cut against, religious, ideological, aesthetic, and even scientific understandings and conceptual frames that underpin and support structural violence (i.e. cultural violence). In each case, nonviolence must be critically examined with all these possibilities in mind. I first define and contextualize a multidimensional account of violence in terms of direct, structural, and cultural violence. I then consider two examples of how it challenges thinking about non-violence.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: cultural violence; non-violence; direct action; peace studies; structural violence; non-violent action;
Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Institutes > Edward M Kennedy Institute
Item ID: 7031
Depositing User: Kennedy Institute
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2016 17:01
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Mediation & Applied Conflict Analysis
Publisher: Maynooth Academic Publishing
Refereed: Yes
URI:

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