Tribalism pp 77-100 | Cite as

Historical Threat and the Priming of Tribal Violence



Humans are naturally tribal and protective of the tribe. But our evolutionary genetics to protect and defend are especially acute and strengthened when real threats surround us. For Americans this was the attack on the World Trade Center, as well as ongoing gun violence in urban areas, mass casualty events, and increasing school shootings. For fundamentalist Muslims it is a sense that the West, and indeed more liberal Muslims, seek to undermine and destroy their way of life. For Russia, it has been a history of invading enemies from Napoleon to Nazi Germany. For Israel it is the sense that a history of persecution and a Holocaust must never occur again, and that they can only depend on themselves for their own defense. Similarly, a once safe-feeling Europe has experienced repeated terrorist attacks across France and in London. For Palestinians, what they call “the Nakba” (“the catastrophe”) is their story of Israel’s takeover of their land and the ongoing struggle of the Israeli Occupation.

Some peoples emerge from historical violence with a sense of strength and resilience in their tribal narrative. The successful emergence from such profound loss—the hinge of transformation to tribal resilience—occurs when their history becomes incorporated into a loss narrative that is accompanied by a phoenix-like rebirth. But others, especially when historical violence has been mixed with shame and dishonor, as was the case of pre-Nazi Germany and the experience of many Jihadists, become hate-based aggressors who may even become demonic in their violent lashing out.


  1. 1.
    International Churchill Society. (n.d.). We Shall Fight on the Beaches. International Churchill Society. Retrieved February 8, 2018, from
  2. 2.
    Newport, F. (2003, March 24). Seventy-two percent of Americans support war against Iraq. Gallup News. Retrieved September 10, 2017, from
  3. 3.
    Key, F. S. (1779–1843). The Star Spangled Banner. Garden City: Doubleday, Doran, & Co. 1942.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Hobfoll, S. (1998). Stress, culture, and community. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Sherin, J. E., & Nemeroff, C. B. (2011). Post-traumatic stress disorder: The neurobiological impact of psychological trauma. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 13(3), 263–278.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Mitchell, M. D., Chivers, D. P., Cormick, M. I., & Ferrari, M. C. (2015). Learning to distinguish between predators and non-predators: Understanding the critical role of diet cues and predator odours in generalisation. Scientific Reports, 5, 13918.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Dunbar, R. I., & Shultz, S. (2007). Evolution in the social brain. Science, 317(5843), 1344–1347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Carroll, N. (2001). On the narrative connection. In W. V. Peer & S. B. Chatman (Eds.), New perspectives on narrative perspective (pp. 21–42). New York: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Glantz, D. M. (2001). The siege of Leningrad, 1941–1944: 900 days of terror. Minneapolis: Zenith Press.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Goure, L. (1962). The *siege of Leningrad. Redwood City: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Kirschenbaum, L. A. (2006). The legacy of the siege of Leningrad, 1941–1995: Myths, memories, and monuments. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Reid, A. (2011, September 15). Myth and tragedy at the siege of Leningrad – Gallery. The Guardian. Retrieved May 18, 2017, from
  13. 13.
    Mikhaylenko, N. (2013, January 20). Leningrad siege: The captive’s diary. Russia Beyond The Headlines. Retrieved March 25, 2017, from
  14. 14.
    Simmons, C., & Perlina, N. (2005). Writing the siege of Leningrad: Women’s diaries, memoirs, and documentary prose. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Birnbaum, M. (2016, March 6). How to understand Putin’s jaw-droppingly high approval ratings. The Washington Post: 13. Retrieved January 5, 2018, from
  16. 16.
    Israel Defense Forces. (n.d.). Rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza. Israel Defense Forces. Retrieved April 8, 2017, from
  17. 17.
    Prupis, N. (2015, November 21). UN council approves French resolution for ‘all necessary measures’ against ISIS. Common Dreams. Retrieved May 6, 2017, from
  18. 18.
    Cooper, H., Gordon, M. R., & MacFarquhar, N. (2015, September 30). Russians strike targets in Syria, but not ISIS areas. The New York Times. Retrieved September 10, 2017, from
  19. 19.
    Skop, Y. (2015, October 15). More Arab students in Israel attending university in new academic year. Haaretz. Retrieved May 18, 2017, from
  20. 20.
    Cherry, R., & Lerman, R. (2014, October 1). Slow but certain integration in Israel. US News and World Report. Retrieved May 26, 2017, from
  21. 21.
    Jewish Telegraphic Agency. (1958, June 13). U.S. Jewry will not survive without link with Israel, Ben Guion says. Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved June 11, 2017, from
  22. 22.
    Kananah, S., & Zaytuni, N. (1988). Deir Yassin: Destroyed Palestinian villages. Birzeit: Birzeit University Press.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Morris, B. (2004). The birth of the Palestinian refugee problem revisited. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Collins, L., & Lapierre, D. (2007). O Jerusalem! New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (2014, August 3). Occupied Palestinian territory: Gaza emergency situation report (as of 3 August 2014, 1500 hrs). United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Retrieved May 5, 2017, from
  26. 26.
    Chandler, A. (2014, September 12). Hamas quietly admits it fired rockets from civilian areas. The Atlantic. Retrieved September 10, 2017, from
  27. 27.
    United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (2014, August 2017). Humanitarian bulletin: Monthly report June-August 2014. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Retrieved September 10, from
  28. 28.
    Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (2015). Palestinian fatality figures in the 2014 Gaza conflict. Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved June 14, 2017, from
  29. 29.
    Christian, P. J. (2011). A combat advisor’s guide to tribal engagement: History, law and war as operational elements. Irvine: Universal Publishers.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Stern, J. (2015, November 18). Why the Islamic State hates France. PBS NewsHour. Retrieved June 10, 2017, from
  31. 31.
    Wilpert, C. (2013). Identity issues in the history of the postwar migration from Turkey to Germany. German Politics and Society, 31(107), 108–131. Scholar
  32. 32.
    United Nations Development Programme. (n.d.). Arab Human Development Reports (AHDR). United Nations Development Programme. Retrieved June 10, 2016, from
  33. 33.
    Fleisher, M. (2008, August 12). UN survey: Arabs read approximately 4 pages per year. Arutz Sheva. Retrieved September 10, 2017, from
  34. 34.
    al-Fanek, F. (2002). Rhima Khalaf drops a bomb. World Press Review, 49(9). Retrieved June 10, 2017, from
  35. 35.
    Schoenleber, M., Sippel, L. M., Jakupcak, M., & Tull, M. T. (2015). Role of trait shame in the association between posttraumatic stress and aggression among men with a history of interpersonal trauma. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 7(1), 43–49. Scholar
  36. 36.
    Krizan, Z., & Johar, O. (2015). Narcissistic rage revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 108(5), 784–801. Scholar
  37. 37.
    Kohut, H. (1972). Thoughts on narcissism and narcissistic rage. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 27, 360–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Behaviorial SciencesRush University Medical CenterChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations