Theorizing Violence

Physical violence is a common feature of daily life. We tend to think of spectacular acts of war, torture, bombings, mutilations, and massacres or, if not so dramatic, them street skirmishes on the streets of Ferguson and Baltimore, muggings, or that uniquely American phenomenon: mass shootings. But violence is all around us in other, and arguably more profound, ways as everyday acts that are symbolic, linguistic, and epistemic as well as structural. Violence exists when the oppressed and the exploited are deliberately ignored. Violence exists on the street corner where a homeless person sits in the winter; violence exists in the lead-laden water supply of Flint, Michigan; violence exists in the slums of the global periphery; violence exists in the territories where indigenous peoples live under constant threat of dispossession; violence exists in the workplace under the coercive logic of capital. Various epistemological positions and theories have sought to struggle with the problematic of violence in both its physical and metaphysical forms.

Required TextS

  • Bruce B. Lawrence and Aisha Karim, eds. On Violence: A Reader (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007).