'Violence that Works on the Soul': Structural and Cultural Violence in Religion and Peacebuilding

In Atalia Omer, R. Scott Little Appleby & David Little (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding. Oxford University Press. pp. 146-179 (2015)
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This article makes the case for the necessity of a multi-focal conception of violence in religion and peacebuilding. I first trace the emergence and development of the analytical concepts of structural and cultural violence in peace studies, demonstrating how these lenses both draw central insights from, but also differ from and improve upon, critical theory and reflexive sociology. I argue that addressing structural and cultural forms of violence are concerns as central as addressing direct (explicit, personal) forms of violence for purposes of building just and sustainable peace. Moreover, religiously informed and/or motivated peacebuilders are especially well-appointed and equipped to identify and address violence in its structural and cultural manifestations. I the examine how concepts of structural and cultural violence, in effect, centrally inform the efforts of Martin Luther King and Cornel West to cultivate just and sustainable peace in a context as putatively peaceful and prosperous as the United States.



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Jason Springs
University of Notre Dame

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