VIII, 585 pp.
4 b/w photos, 2 colour illustrations, 14 b/w figures
Text languages: English, German, French
Cruelty has many faces. It would be pointless to aim to list all forms of cruelty, from a child’s torment of animals to torture by secret police. Even the institutionalized forms are remarkably manifold – war, torture, prison camps, forced prostitution, human sacrifice, bloody initiation rituals, deadly and bloody combat sports, hate radio, splatter movies or public torture of animals are just some examples.
The list of institutionalized cruelty remains ever-unfinished, as cruelty itself develops to remain state-of-the-art – from impalement, crucifixion, garrote and guillotine to the mass shootings, gas chambers, and human experimentation of Nazi Germany, and the weapons of the Holodomor and Gulags of Stalinism, to the homosexuals in Iran who are hanged on cranes, the hand grenades of the Interahamwe, and the orange suits of the prisoners at Guantánamo.
Cruelty is a mirror of the living conditions and achievements of a society. It appears to be as old as humanity itself and crosses societal and cultural boundaries. No society can say that it does not allow cruelty to exist, even if societies differ to an extreme in the amount of space they give to cruelty and which forms are practiced in these particular spaces. Cruelty as an empirical phenomenon appears unable to avoid the cultural and historical relativity of good and evil, morality and immorality, and right and wrong.
Researchers from throughout Europe and the United States met at the conference on Institutions of Cruelty – Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Rostock, Germany, in late June 2009, to reflect on and discuss the prospects for theory building and research on cruelty. The treatments published in this volume give insight into the subject matter of the conference by presenting interdisciplinary research findings – from anthropological, sociological, psychological and political philosophical foundations of cruelty over topics on torture and human sacrifice – from an historical as well as contemporary point of view – up to various perspectives on the history of cruelty in different parts of the world.
While the individual articles have different emphases, the overall context is an ethnography of cruelty that cannot be deterred or restricted by the boundaries of societies, cultures, or historical epochs. Taken together, the articles claim to examine cruelty as a universal phenomenon, whereby also anthropological issues are given high priority in the coordinate framework of the research questions.
Trutz von Trotha:
On Cruelty – Conceptual Considerations and a Summary of an Interdisciplinary Debate
Part I – On the Foundations of a Theory of Cruelty
Étienne Le Roy:
Entre évitements et engagements citoyens – Pour une épistémologie transmoderne d’une science de la cruauté et une éthique de la citoyenneté
Grausamkeit aus der Sicht der Philosophischen Anthropologie
Part II – Psychological and Anthropological Foundations of Cruelty
Sophie de Mijolla-Mellor:
Approche psychanalytique de la cruauté
Trutz von Trotha:
Dispositionen der Grausamkeit – Über die anthropologischen Grundlagen grausamen Handelns
Part III – On the Anthropology, Sociology, and Political Philosophy of Cruelty
The Tactical Use of Cruelty in Tribal Warfare
Ritual Boundary Violence and Bureaucratic Callousness – Two Structural Causes of Cruelty
Éléments d’une philosophie politique de la cruauté
Cruelty and Total War – Political-Philosophical Preconditions of the Dissociation Mentality
Part IV – On Human Sacrifice
The Study of Human Sacrifices in Pre-Columbian Cultures – A Challenge for Ethnohistorical and Archaeological Research
Der Nedjti zwischen Kriegszug und Vernichtungsopfer – Potenzielle Räume institutionalisierter Grausamkeit im Alten Ägypten
Menschenopfer als Institution der Grausamkeit – Ihre Überwindung als Paradigma zur Lösung interkultureller Konflikte
Part V – On Torture
Towards a Body Sociology of Torture
Grausamkeit – eine juristische Perspektive
Rückkehr der Folter? Die juristische Debatte über Folter in Deutschland
Challenges to the Global Fight Against Torture
Part VI – On the History of Cruelty
Grausame Herrscher – die Delhi-Sultane
María Isabel del Val Valdivieso:
Cruelty in Medieval Castile – War, Towns and Monarchy in the XV Century
Grausamkeit und Kolonialismus – Zur Dynamik von Grausamkeit
“… absurd to make moan over the imagined humiliation and degradation“ – Exhibiting the Colonial Other at World’s Fairs and the Institutionalization of Cruelty
The Civil War and the Regime of Generalísimo Franco – Cruelty as a Strategy for the Obtainment, Legitimisation, and Consolidation of Political Power
Summaries of the Contributions
Some Notes on the Contributors