State Terror and Anthropology

State Terror and - "Introduction State Terror and Anthropology Jeffrey A Sluka in Death Squad The Anthropology of State Terror J.A Sluka ed

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"Introduction: State Terror and Anthropology," Jeffrey A. Sluka, in Death Squad: The Anthropology of State Terror, J.A. Sluka, ed., Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. Sluka sets out to describe and explain the widespread and growing problem of state terror. First, he distinguishes between terror and terrorism, and provides working definitions. Second, he discusses two varieties of state terror, namely, torture and political murder. Third, he thoroughly surveys various aspects of the anthropology of state terror, emphasizing the need to follow the dictates of conscience and not only describe and explain state terror, but also to take a political stand against it, rather than remain neutral under the pretense of scientific objectivity through neutrality. Fourth, Sluka develops a theoretical model to explain state terror as a choice to use violence to maintain a hierarchical social, economic, and political system against the discontent and resistance of the citizenry. STATE TERROR Terrorism is defined as political intimidation and control by violence or the threat of violence. State terror is a violent response by the elite toward the citizenry when the latter challenges the status quo. If their challenge becomes violent or anti-state, then the elite or those in power stigmatize it as terrorism. However, anti-state terrorism is relatively insignificant compared to state terrorism which is enormously more powerful with its institutionalized machinery of systematic torture, death squads, and other atrocities violating the most basic of human rights (p. 1). Since World War II there has been a massive escalation of state terrorism with a toll in the millions of deaths, disappearances, tortured, refugees, etc. (See p. 2 for statistics). This amounts to an undeclared and unrecognized war of states against humanity (4). Anyone who challenges or criticizes the state, or status quo, may be stigmatized and targeted as subversive, terrorist, traitor, communist, and the like. No one is safe, not even women, elderly, or children. Even street children, homeless people, and other "underdesirables" may be targeted for "social cleansing." The target can be anyone who doesn't conform or who simply has a critical or alternative idea in their head (5-6). Such phenomena have been labeled "death by government" by University of Hawai`i political scientist
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This note was uploaded on 04/28/2011 for the course PACE 345 taught by Professor Brucebarnes during the Spring '10 term at University of Hawaii, Manoa.

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State Terror and - "Introduction State Terror and Anthropology Jeffrey A Sluka in Death Squad The Anthropology of State Terror J.A Sluka ed

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