Warfare, Distance and Civilizing Processes Part I

Monday, 16 July 2018: 10:30-12:20
RC56 Historical Sociology (host committee)

Language: English

Combat at a distance is not new and precedes "the civilizing process" (Elias, 1939), but the development and generalization of firearms in warfare taking place between 1300 and 1600 seems, remarkably, to coincide with it.
The relations between the "process of civilisation" and new types of weapons are striking and ambiguous. On the one hand, these transformations enabled killing on a new dimension and scale. And since the World Wars not only soldiers but also great parts of the civilian population fall victim to mass killings because of new types of weapons. On the other hand, fencing, suffocating, stabbing, seem to lose their importance in the killing from a distance. There is no need for the spontaneity, affectivity and other forms of fierce emotions that one could find on the battlefields of the past. The atomic bomb kills millions but it needs only a person pushing a button. Drone warfare is also an example of what may be ironically called ”civilised warfare”.

This session invites sociologists, socio-historians and historians to question the transformation of the manner of making war and violence in its complexity.
The intervention could consider the proxemic dimension (Hall, 1966) of a battle, but also the representation of violence at any given time, notably the fact that some modalities of violence are considered less "respectable" than others, paradoxically independently of the number of victims they claim.
Session Organizers:
Ilan LEW, University of Geneve, Switzerland and Dieter REICHER, University of Graz, Austria
Ilan LEW, University of Geneve, Switzerland
Oral Presentations