Synopses & Reviews
When is a war not a war? When it is undertaken in the name of democracy, against the forces of racism, sexism, and religious and political persecution? This is the new world of warfare that Neda Atanasoski observes in Humanitarian Violence, different in name from the old imperialism but not so different in kind. In particular, she considers U.S. militarismandmdash;humanitarian militarismandmdash;during the Vietnam War, the Soviet-Afghan War, and the 1990s wars of secession in the former Yugoslavia.
What this book brings to lightandmdash;through novels, travel narratives, photojournalism, films, news media, and political rhetoricandmdash;is in fact a system of postsocialist imperialism based on humanitarian ethics. In the fiction of the United States as a multicultural haven, which morally underwrites the nationandrsquo;s equally brutal waging of war and making of peace, parts of the world are subject to the violence of U.S. power because they are portrayed to be homogeneous and racially, religiously, and sexually intolerantandmdash;and thus permanently in need of reform. The entangled notions of humanity and atrocity that follow from such mediations of war and crisis have refigured conceptions of racial and religious freedom in the postandndash;Cold War era. The resulting cultural narratives, Atanasoski suggests, tend to racialize ideological differencesandmdash;whereas previous forms of imperialism racialized bodies. In place of the European racial imperialism, U.S. settler colonialism, and preandndash;civil rights racial constructions that associated racial difference with a devaluing of nonwhite bodies, Humanitarian Violence identifies an emerging discourse of race that focuses on ideological and cultural differences and makes postsocialist and Islamic nations the potential targets of U.S. disciplining violence.
In this book, the author argues that the US has historically gone towar in order to further imperialist takeovers, and justified them by appeals to physical racism: that the bodies of the target peoplebelong to a bad or inferior race. The book argues that, while the motives for war have remained the same, the justification has shiftedto appealing to humanitarian motives. The new sales pitch for war is to identify nations the US wishes to invade as racist, dangerous towomen, and intolerant of religious and other minorities. The imperial power is defined as a religiously tolerant, raciallydiverse, socially progressive democratic society intervening in a human rights crisis to stop atrocities. The author suggests that thecombination of racial and human-rights stories creates a racialized imagination of cultural difference, peoples in need of constantintervention by Western powers in order to create reform. The examples considered here are fiction (Hollywood movies, television)and photojournalism, which are treated as the same material: popular media. The book is informed by the politics of the East Europeanstates of the former Soviet Union; its analysis allows theorists of colonialism to include as victims of colonial bigotry people andnations that may be seen as Caucasian or politically right-wing but are distinguished by post-socialist politics, Islamic faith, or communism.Annotation ©2014 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)
Humanitarian Violence considers U.S. militarismandmdash;humanitarian militarismandmdash;during the Vietnam War, the Soviet-Afghan War, and the 1990s wars of secession in the former Yugoslavia. Neda Atanasoski reveals a system of postsocialist imperialism based on humanitarian ethics, identifying a discourse of race that focuses on ideological and cultural differences and makes postsocialist and Islamic nations the targets of U.S. disciplining violence.
About the Author
Neda Atanasoski is associate professor of feminist studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Racial Reorientations of U.S. Humanitarian Imperalism
1. Racial Time and the Other: Mapping the Postsocialist Transition
2. The Vietnam War and the Ethics of Failure: Heart of Darkness and the Emergence of Humanitarian Feeling at the Limits of Imperial Critique
3. Restoring National Faith: The Soviet-Afghan War in U.S. Media and Politics
4. Dracula as Ethnic Conflict: The Technologies of Humanitarian Militarism in Serbia and Kosovo
5. Feminist Politics of Secular Redemption at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
Epilogue. Beyond Spectacle: The Hidden Geographies of the War at Home