Violence of war, ontopology, and the instrumental and performative constitution of the political community
Review of International Studies
Cambridge University Press (CUP) for British International Studies Association
© British International Studies Association 2017
This paper considers a neglected question in International Relations, namely how violence of war contributes to the constitution of the political community at the intersection between war and peace. It exposes limitations of means-ends, instrumental understanding of war violence due to the overlooking of violence’s performative attributes stemming from the centrality of bodily injuries in war. The instrumental violence on which the constitution of the political community is grounded finds expression in an order of representation that can be termed ontopology, and a pervasive—circular—relationship between ontopology and violence insofar as ontopology has inspired extreme forms of human behaviour and also been used to justify violence as a means to enact an ontopological goal. Yet, recognising the role of bodily injuries in the course of fighting allows for a more complete understanding of war. Crucially it enables an interpretation of the structure of war as a relation between war’s interior content—casualties in war—and the exterior, verbal issues standing outside it (pertaining to security, identity, sovereignty, authority, ideology), that lead to a surrogate contest of re-imagining political community in the process of which performative power of violence contributes directly to the emerging post-war peace and laws that justify it.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from CUP via the DOI in this record.
Published online: 24 July 2017