Emergent Axioms of Violence: Toward an Anthropology of Post-Liberal Modernity

Panel organizers:
Stavroula Pipyrou (University of St. Andrews) sp78@st-andrews.ac.uk
Antonio Sorge (York University) asorge@yorku.ca

More than ever, violent speech and metaphor is constitutive of everyday politics, both in the corridors of government and in public rhetoric. Throughout North America, Europe, and beyond, an era defined by civility of public discourse has been shattered, replaced by a form of ‘free speech’  that verges on inciting hatred towards women, working classes, political opponents, old Cold War enemies, minorities, refugees – the list is endless.  The global financial downturn of the last decade has triggered a particular desire to reassess the post-war political logos that was broadly focused on promoting universal human rights under the auspices of the global liberal democratic order. In consequence, a series of once-unthinkable violences have become omnipresent from the level of international governance (aggressive trade agreements, dangerous propaganda) to cafeteria conversations and workplace relations. Presidents and prime-ministers, elected officials at all levels, as well as everyday publics, are increasingly given to a newfound willingness to express violent propositions that incite even more belligerent responses. These rhetorics operate as axiomatic truths, and resonate widely for their avowed rejection of what actors across the global sociopolitical landscape increasingly perceive to be a tired, old, and corrupt status quo, remnants of an anachronistic era of liberal modernity.

This panel invites papers addressing how propositions of violence have become naturalized/undetectable/uncontested axioms, uncannily woven into everyday life. Evinced through the rise of right-wing nationalism, increasing anti-immigrant feeling and xenophobia, everyday racism, and prevalent gun culture, axioms of violence are challenged through movements such as #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, equality and diversity initiatives in the workplace and programs promoting community solidarity. Through comparative ethnographic intervention, we hope to expose the naturalisation of violence in the everyday so as to better discern their sociological wellsprings as well as their ideological foundations.