Friday, October 26, 2012

Considering Context: Biographies of Violence and Non-Violence

Blogging sure happens in fits and starts. The many distractions (teaching and administrative) of the fall semester put a quick end to my post-prolific August. Much of the time at work, I feel like a pinball bouncing around the board. However, recently, a couple of bell-ringing, lighted prongs knocked me into writing up this post.

Earlier this week, I was asked to participate in an informal discussion about the the “roots of violence” in human beings with a biologist and a political scientist. As I began to think about my component of the discussion, I definitely wanted to highlight the contextual nature of human behavior, which sometimes can include violent actions, and to counter any kind of claim about an essential predisposition to primordial barbarism. It was to be an informal talk, so I didn’t want to prepare some comprehensive take, like offered in Agustín Fuentes’ new book, but was hoping for a more intimate discussion of humans and violence. What’s a busy professor to do?