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date: 27 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the phenomenon of political violence in its many forms. It focuses on distinctions among physical, structural or cultural, and symbolic violence, rather than focusing on more traditional forms of political violence, such as riots and assassinations. Thus the chapter analyzes the role of violence at the core of the modern nation-state, especially through discussing Walter Benjamin’s distinction between law-preserving and law-making violence. The chapter concludes that political violence is often at its worst, most intense, and most widespread when trust in political institutions falters and significant portions of a given polity no longer find these institutions credible or legitimate. Conversely, political violence can be minimized through the construction of strong, inclusive, and vibrant political institutions based on principles of inclusion and procedural justice, qualities Johan Galtung saw as the foundations for positive peace.

Keywords: structural violence, symbolic violence, ethnic conflict, legitimacy, political institutions, Walter Benjamin, Pierre Bourdieu, Johan Galtung, Carl Schmitt

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