Emancipatory Violences

  • J. Marshall Beier


Violence is a tricky thing: we see it when we know it, but we do not always know it when we see it. As Johan Galtung has famously argued, it need not be the product of malicious intent; it may as readily be structural in the sense that it is harm that is visited upon others in consequence of the political choices of the comparatively privileged and powerful but is not necessarily an objective of those choices in itself (Galtung 1969). We have seen how violences of this sort play out structurally in popular culture forms and in orthodox social theory notwithstanding that those realms might seem, on first gloss, to be quite remote from the advanced colonial structures of domination of which they are ultimately found to be an integral part. And even though there is no conscious instrumentality at work here, the outcomes are no less pernicious and their founding no more politically neutral than where more conspicuously malign violences are concerned: witness, for example, the parallels between Stevens’s Sioux War Panorama and the Royal Ontario Museum’s “Ontario Archaeology Gallery”; between the travelogues and some contemporary ethnographies of the Yanomami. Pathologies of this sort must be known before they are easily seen by those privileged enough not to suffer them. My aim in this chapter is to draw attention to some even more elusive violences than these in the hope that in coming to know them better we might also be better equipped to see them.


Indigenous People International Relation Indigenous Culture International Theory Spiritual Tradition 
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  1. 22.
    Elizabeth Neuffer, “Germans Make a Hobby Out of Cowboys and Indians,” Boston Globe (August 6, 1996), p.E1. Although hobbyism exists in North America as well, it has enjoyed its greatest popularity in Europe. And European hobbyism is particularly instructive for us here inasmuch as it underscores that the violences of advanced colonialism need not be performed locally in order to have local effects through the hegemonologue.Google Scholar

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© J. Marshall Beier 2005

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  • J. Marshall Beier

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