There are good reasons to look at violence from new perspectives. In its endless manifestations violence is part and parcel of human existence, and is very probably a constituting element of human society. And yet violent action - warfare, penalties, insults, feuding, assault, murder, rape, suicide, sports - remains in all its complexity one of the least understood fields of human social life.The book's contributors identify the symbolic and ritualized aspects of violence, and suggest ways of 'reading' violence as it occurs in the world, whether as violent duelling and age-group violence in Southern Ethiopia, bullfighting in Iberia, cattle rustling in Kenya, guerrilla and militia wars in Colombia, or public executions in China.These case studies suggest that 'violence' is not a simple, universal urge, but is contingent and context-dependent, shaped by social relations of power, force and dominance. To be the victim of violence is a humiliating and frightening experience. But the many ambiguities that occur in the use of violence must be considered, to understand why peace seems only to exist as a contrast to the violation of peace.
Preface: Violation and Violence as Cultural Phenomena, Introduction: The Idiom of Violence in Imagery and Discourse 1 The Enigma of Senseless Violence 2 'Criminals by Instinct': On the 'Tragedy' of Social Structure and the 'Violence' of lndividual Creativity 3 Ritual, Violence and Social Order: An Approach to Spanish Bullfighting 4 Restoring the Balance: Violence and Culture Among the Suri of Southern Ethiopia 5 Tolerating the Intolerable: Cattle Raiding Among the Kuria of Kenya 6 Rethinking 'Violence' in Chinese Culture 7 Butchering Fish and Executing Criminals: Public Executions and the Meanings of Violence in Late Imperial and Modem China, 8 The 'Tradition of Violence' in Colombia: Material and Symbolic Aspects