Re: Dumb Question & primative war

Mon, 7 Nov 1994 13:45:19 EST

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----------------------------Original message----------------------------

The following is directed to the thread on "Primative War.

As I am researching peacekeeping, for an MA thesis, I couldn't hepl
but note the abscence of postings on the subject of war considering
that in the contemporary context (of complex, "civilized",
transglobal cf.primative societies) war is no longer considered
extant. "War" is now considered in the military literature to be a
legal term of very narrow application. More generally, the term
"armed conflict"is used to describe pratice /practise.
Since the development of the League of Nations a very, very small no
of millitary exercises have been technically considered as "War".
Perhaps one should then rather than hypothesising "Primative war" as
dependant on the development of writing, one should think in terms
of formalised legal systems. ie. if one of the primative parties
defined the incident as "war" within a relevant (to them) legal frame
work then "war" it must be. Otherwise anthropologists should just use
the grab all of conflict,(qualified as economic, literary, spiritual,
armed... .), otherwise they risk entrapment in over-definition or

Of course "war" should really be considered in the contemporary
context as a notion that has become reified, in that its use or
nonuse mysitifies (as does its replacement "armed conflict") the
situation in which individuals and societies become maimed, modified,
or deleted by acts of agression.

John Waldmann
Auckland University.