CASE STUDIES TO FURTHER EXPLORE GALTUNG'S TYPOLOGIES
METHODS READING: PART 3Read the following section of the framework. Be prepared to answer questions in the discussion following the reading.
METHODOLOGIAL ASSUMPTIONS AND ANALYTICAL FRAMEWORKS REGARDING RELIGION
Diane L. Moore, Harvard Divinity School, 2015
Johan Galtung: Direct, Structural, and Cultural forms of Violence and Peace:
Often referred to as the “Father of Peace Studies”, Norwegian theorist Johan Galtung has developed a three pronged typology of violence that represents how a confluence of malleable factors merge in particular cultural/historical moments to shape the conditions for the promotion of violence (and, by inference, peace) to function as normative.
- Direct Violence represents behaviors that serve to threaten life itself and/or to diminish one’s capacity to meet basic human needs. Examples include killing, maiming, bullying, sexual assault, and emotional manipulation.
- Structural Violence represents the systematic ways in which some groups are hindered from equal access to opportunities, goods, and services that enable the fulfillment of basic human needs. These can be formal as in legal structures that enforce marginalization (such as Apartheid in South Africa) or they could be culturally functional but without legal mandate (such as limited access to education or health care for marginalized groups).
- Cultural Violence represents the existence of prevailing or prominent social norms that make direct and structural violence seem “natural” or “right” or at least acceptable. For example, the belief that Africans are primitive and intellectually inferior to Caucasians gave sanction to the African slave trade. Galtung’s understanding of cultural violence helps explain how prominent beliefs can become so embedded in a given culture that they function as absolute and inevitable and are reproduced uncritically across generations.
Africans are captured, forced across the Atlantic to work as slaves: millions are killed in the process—in Africa, on board, in the Americas. This massive direct violence over centuries seeps down and sediments as massive structural violence, with whites as the master topdogs and blacks as the slave underdogs, producing and reproducing massive cultural violence with racist ideas everywhere. After some time, direct violence is forgotten, slavery is forgotten, and only two labels show up, pale enough for college textbooks: “discrimination” for massive structural violence and “prejudice” for massive cultural violence. Sanitation of language: itself cultural violence.
Galtung’s typology provides a helpful vehicle to discern the complex roles that religions play in all three forms of violence as well as in their corresponding forms of peace. The formulations of cultural violence and cultural peace are especially helpful and relevant. In all cultural contexts, diverse and often contradictory religious influences are always present. Some will be explicit, but many will be implicit. Some influences will promote and/or represent socially normative beliefs while others will promote and/or represent marginalized convictions.
For example, in Galtung’s illustration cited above, religions functioned to both support and to challenge the moral legitimacy of the transatlantic slave trade and religions continue to function to support and to thwart structural and direct forms of contemporary racism. Similarly, religions currently function in particular ways to shape and support as well as to challenge prominent economic theories and their policy manifestations. In a final example, normative cultural assumptions about gender roles and sexuality in particular social-historical contexts are always shaped as well as contested by diverse religious voices and influences. One has to simply look for these voices and influences in any context and about any issue to find the ways that religions are embedded in all aspects of human agency and experience.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
This course represents the following methodological and analytical assumptions about religion:
- There is a fundamental difference between the devotional expression of a religious worldview as normative and the study of religion which recognizes the factual existence of diverse devotional assertions;
- Religions are internally diverse;
- Religions evolve and change;
- Religious influences are embedded in all aspects of human experience;
- All knowledge claims (including religious ones) are socially constructed and represent particular “situated” perspectives;
- There is nothing inevitable about either violence or peace; both are manifest in three intersecting formulations: direct, structural, and cultural and both are shaped by conscious and unconscious human agency where religious influences are always operative.
FURTHER EXPLORATIONS OF GALTUNG'S TYPOLOGIES
We've referenced the example of chattel slavery to explain how structural, cultural, and direct forms of violence interact and reinforce each other. To elaborate a bit more on that example, we're providing resources to explore the roles that Christianity and science played in shaping the cultural conditions that both promoted and challenged the institution of chattel slavery in the United States in the 19th century.
Christianity: As previously noted, Christians both supported and challenged the moral legitimacy of slavery in the United States. See here for an article by Larry R. Morrison entitled "The Religious Justification of Slavery Before 1830" published in the Journal of Religious Thought, Fall 80/Winter 81, Vol. 37, Issue 2, p. 16, 14p. Morrison draws from several historical sources and provides an overview of Christian support for slavery. See here for excerpts from an article published in 1836 in The Anti-Slavery Examiner by abolitionist Angelina Grimké entitled "Appeal to the Christian Women of the South" for an example of how Christianity served as a foundation for the moral condemnation of slavery. Upon reading these resources, reflect upon how they represent forms of cultural violence and cultural peace, and how those representations interact with structural and direct forms of violence and peace.
Phrenology: Phrenology is the now discredited scientific study of the structure of the skull to determine mental capability and character traits. As one concrete example of phrenology and its influence, please see the following film clip on an influential phrenology text published in 1839 entitled Crania Americana. The clip features James Poskett, a doctoral candidate from the University of Cambridge, who studied the creation and influence of this important text. Using Galtung's typology, please note how the text functioned as a form of cultural violence that gave credibility to the forced relocation of Native peoples in North America as well as credibility to both chattel slavery and its abolition.
Please watch the video below
ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT HUMAN NATURE AND VIOLENCE
One of the most vexing questions that many humans ponder is why we continue to perpetuate heinous forms of violence against one another and other living entities in spite of lessons learned from history. One answer to this question is rooted in a credible but bleak assumption about human nature and capacity where such violence is viewed as inevitable and fundamental to the human condition. For those with a more optimistic view of human nature, however, the answer is more complicated, and this more optimistic view is the one that is assumed in the cultural studies approach represented in this course.
Such optimism requires confronting issues related to the perpetuation of violence in new ways. For example, most contemporaries will view the 19th century illustration above with horror at the base brutality it depicts. Many will view the Caucasians represented in the illustration with repugnance and moral condemnation, fueled by an often unstated assumption that "those" people are not like "us." But what if they are like "us?" What if our attempts to distance ourselves by consciously or unconsciously depicting those "others" as "evil" or uniquely callous or morally bankrupt serve to hinder versus enhance our ability to learn from the past? The assertion that "they" are like "us" is the entry point for understanding the following resources.
In this section, please read the following seven examples and choose one to to focus upon. In the discussion section, please apply Galtung's typologies of violence and peace to the example you chose. How does his framework help to better understand how consciousness about embedded cultural values can help mitigate violence and promote peace?
There are many efforts among Israelis and Palestinians to forge peace but here we'll focus on those initiated by families who have lost loved ones in the conflict. See here for a 7 minute extended trailer of a moving documentary entitled Encounter Point that was released in 2007 and here for the story of the Parents Circle-Family Forum. How can Galtung's typologies help us understand why these and related stories are not widely known?
Example Two: Thich Nhat Hanh and Engaged BuddhisM
Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist Monk who coined the term "Engaged Buddhism" during the Vietnam War to represent his active work for peace and to respond to the traumas of war. Please go here for an overview of his life and teaching, here for a list of the fourteen precepts of Engaged Buddhism, and see below a video documenting his return from exile to Vietnam to found a monastery and how it was later banned by the Communist government. In reflecting on Thich Nhat Hanh's long service as monk, what is unique about his peace building efforts and what are the sources of his inspiration to forge new pathways?
Example Three: Liberation Theology, and the "Preferential Option for the Poor" in Latin America
Peruvian Roman Catholic priest Gustavo Gutierrez is known in many circles as the "father" of liberation theology which is a movement that emerged in Latin America in the 1960s and is associated with interpreting the Christian Gospels through the experience of the poor and marginalized. In 1981, Pope John Paul II named Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) as Cardinal-Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, an office charged with defending and affirming official Catholic doctrine. In this role, Cardinal Ratzinger condemned liberation theology and accused it of having Marxist affiliations and inciting violence. See here for an article about Gustavo Gutierrez and a recently published collection of his writings, here for a 2008 article highlighting the tensions between the Vatican under Pope Benedict and liberation theology, and here for an article describing how Pope Francis is more aligned with the tenets of liberation theology than his predecessors were. How can Galtung's typologies help understand the emergence of and controversies surrounding liberation theology?
Example Four: 1790 Exchange of Letters Between Jewish Leader Moses Seixas and President George Washington
Moses Seixas, was the Warden of the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, now the Touro Synagogue. In 1790, the year that the new Constitution of the United States was ratified, President Washington visited Rhode Island and Mr. Seixas was one of the dignitaries selected to greet the new president. Mr Seixus penned a letter for the occasion that highlighted, in part, how Jews had been "deprived as we heretofore have been of the invaluable rights of free Citizens..." but that they now look to the newly established Republic to be "a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction [and] to persecution no assistance..." President Washington responded a few days later with a letter of his own that read, in part, "It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights." He went on to assert that "For happily, the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens..." See here for further information and full transcripts of both letters (courtesy of the George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom). Please reflect upon the social and cultural conditions that gave rise to this aspirational exchange.
Example Five: The Passion Play at Oberammergau
Beginning in 1634 and with few interruptions, the people of the village of Oberammergau, Germany have staged a Passion Play depicting a dramatic rendition of the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. According to legend, in 1633 the bubonic plague had come to the region and the townspeople vowed to regularly perform a Passion Play if they would be spared. It is the longest running continual performance of a Passion Play in the world. Over the past several decades, critics have asserted that the play is anti-Semitic. See here for an article by Professor Anna Lisa Ohm depicting the history of the play and here for a promotional video produced by the town. One of the questions raised in the article is whether a "good" (e.g., not anti-Semitic) passion play is possible. How might Galtung's typologies help us to better understand this controversy?
Example Six: The Sri Lankan Civil War (1983-2009)
This long conflict took a terrible toll on the Sri Lankan population. Read this case study published by the Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University that addresses the following questions: What are the historical origins of the conflict in Sri Lanka? How were domestic religious forces and identities involved? How important were international religious and political forces? What role did socioeconomic factors play? As you read, please reflect upon how Galtung's typologies can be applied to this conflict.
Example Seven: Gandhi's Legacy
See this excerpt and read pages 15-27 for an overview of the three basic precepts of Gandhi's foundation for nonviolence: Satyagraha, or "Truth Force" in Joan Bondurant's classic 1958 study of Gandhi entitled Conquest of Violence. See this National Geographic story about some of ways that Gandhi's legacy endures in India today. From the perspective of Galtung's typologies, reflect upon how cultures of peace are cultivated and sustained over time, especially when they are countering more pervasive cultures of violence.