Anthropology and peacebuilding

Authored by: M. Anne Brown

Routledge Handbook of Peacebuilding

Print publication date:  January  2013
Online publication date:  February  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415690195
eBook ISBN: 9780203068175
Adobe ISBN: 9781135082130


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This chapter offers a reflection on what anthropology as a tradition of scholarship and debate, but perhaps most pertinently as a history of engagement across deeply problematic conceptions of otherness and encounters with difference and power, offers to contemporary peacebuilding. The journey of modern anthropology, from at least the nineteenth century to now, can be deeply instructive for peacebuilding; what could be called the ‘errors’ of this complex field of reflection may be as useful as its insights; its epistemological struggles and methodological comportment might offer as much as its studies of particular places to our understanding of how we live and relate to each other as human beings and societies. Let me note, however, that 1 am writing here not as an anthropologist but as someone working on questions of peacebuilding (or peace formation) who has been inspired and influenced by the work of anthropologists. This chapter then does not seek to provide a systematic or critical overview of the state of the art of anthropology and its potential contribution to peacebuilding; the categories and tropes discussed are not necessarily those that an anthropologist might choose but those that have been important to me when grappling with challenges posed by questions of working against violence. 1

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