Home > Uncategorized > Graphic Violence: Undemrining rationality or better representations for avoiding violence?

Graphic Violence: Undemrining rationality or better representations for avoiding violence?

I can’t find the blogpost on Duck of Minerva that discussed this, but the author was arguing that IR literature is largely sanitized from graphic depictions of violence. There is some literature on the media and pop culture influence of distorted depictions of graphic violence but IR to a large extent remains sanitized.

 

I find the argument that this sanitation makes war more reasonable and possible very convincing. My own experience every time I read about a new colonial atrocity is usually one of shock and disbelief that I missed yet another historical example of purposeful infliction of suffering and death on humans. The Namibian example was particularly powerful. ANd the effect every time has been to reinforce my conviction of the complete disaster that colonial rule is. Now some may say this is just a shift of focus, that it undermines a reasoned assessment by highlighting the suffering and that it diverts attention of issues where graphic suffering is not so shocking but exists still (Neo-liberalism, The one who walk away from omelas).

On the other hand if graphic, personalized violence was depicted more often, obviously in non-hyperbolic ways, then the whole disciplines perspective towards war would be shifted. I for one know that war is not all the time killing and raping and suffering all the time, that perhaps most of the time is not actually spent in fighting, and there would need to be a way to convey the sense of banality and the sense of the particular about violent conflicts, to distinguish between and to highlight what is in common without cheapening them. But at this point the idea of introducing more personal accounts of experience with violence and its effects (like accounts of torture, war fighting, injured, deaths) would benefit the perspective of IR in at least giving scholars a more measured understanding of what war entails beyond “power”. This has some definite Feminist and Post-colonial inspiration behind it.

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