Skip to main content

Collective evil and individual pathology: The depoliticization of violence against Afghan civilians

Toros, Harmonie, Mavelli, Luca (2014) Collective evil and individual pathology: The depoliticization of violence against Afghan civilians. International Politics, 51 (4). pp. 508-524. ISSN 1384-5748. (doi:10.1057/ip.2014.23) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)
Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/ip.2014.23

Abstract

This article explores how the violence against Afghan civilians carried out by the Taliban and US ‘rogue’ soldiers has been accounted for as the product of, respectively, collective evil and individual pathology. These two seemingly contending explanations, it is argued, are part of the same strategy of depoliticization, which aims to provide support and legitimacy for the US-led war in Afghanistan. The article discusses how the genealogy of the discourse of collective evil surrounding the Taliban can be traced to an Orientalist political theodicy, which frames the Taliban as ‘children of a lesser God’ – that is, as fanatical puppets at the mercy of a violent God – and how the discourse of individual pathology surrounding the unsanctioned violence of US soldiers is instrumental to exempt military and civilian leadership from collusion and responsibility. The article challenges this latter narrative of individual blame by discussing how killing, torture and desecration of bodies are at the heart of warfare. Hence, it is concluded, the language of collective evil and individual pathology are part of the same strategy of depoliticization, which aims to silence political contestation and conceal the dehumanizing aspect of war, its structural production of violence, and the complex and dispersed nature of responsibility.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1057/ip.2014.23
Uncontrolled keywords: evil and pathology; violence; war in Afghanistan; civilian casualties; responsibility
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Luca Mavelli
Date Deposited: 20 May 2014 12:08 UTC
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2020 15:18 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/41093 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Toros, Harmonie: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9139-5292
Mavelli, Luca: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6163-2971
  • Depositors only (login required):