Anthropology and Nonviolence: a Reflection on Peace from Nagasaki

In: Journal of Pacifism and Nonviolence
Hirokazu MiyazakiNorthwestern University Evanston, IL, USA
Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan

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Despite their personal commitment to peace, anthropologists have an ambivalent relationship to pacifism and nonviolence. This is partly because violence is pervasive at all levels of interpersonal, intergroup, and international relations anthropologists routinely study. Ethnographic records show that violence of all kinds is part and parcel of human relationality. While there are many fine-grained analyses of conflicts, disputes, injustices, and inequalities, and their complex, and often long-term, consequences, pacifism and nonviolence have not been among the discipline’s explicit ethnographic or theoretical concerns. In this article I discuss the concept of “peace resources,” recently introduced by Japanese anthropologist Oda Hiroshi, as a possible starting point for more ethnographic and practical engagement with pacifism and nonviolence. I use my ethnographic observations of various activities aimed at the abolition of nuclear weapons taking place alongside the annual commemoration of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9th to examine the concept’s promise.

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