Terror's Talk: Fieldwork and War


Theidon, Kimberly S. 2001. “Terror's Talk: Fieldwork and War.” Dialectical Anthropology. Dialectical Anthropology. Copy at http://www.tinyurl.com/y268locx

Date Published:

Mar 1, 2001


My purpose in this essay is to raise some questions about what is involved in research on political violence. Since 1995 I have conducted ethnographic research in rural villages throughout Ayacucho, the region of Peru most heavily affected by the war between the guerrilla group Sendero Luminoso, the rondas campesinas (armed peasant patrols) and the Peruvian armed forces. A key factor motivating my research was a desire to write against the culture of violence arguments that were used to "explain" the war. The concept of a"culture of violence" or "endemic violence" has frequently been attributed to the Andean region, particularly to the rural peasants who inhabit the highlands. I wanted to understand how people make and unmake lethal violence in a particular social and historical context, and to explore the positioning and responsibilities of an anthropologist who conducts research in the context of war.


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