Orientations Between Past and Future

An Anthropology of Life Threads, Global War, and Transnational (In-)Justice


Funded by
The Swedish foundation for humanities and social sciences

Sverker Finnström

Project Description

Because we live in an age of globalized mass violence and large-scale humanitarian, military and justice interventions, we need more knowledge about how these phenomena intersect and affect the human condition across continents.

Following this hypothesis, the project investigates contemporary global war and transnational interventions of our times, with the primary aim of advancing our understanding of the complex phenomenology of centrifugal (e.g., refugee flows) and centripetal (e.g., justice interventions or diplomacy) travels of violent conflict. Building on ethnographic fieldwork carried out in war-torn northern Uganda on the Lord’s Resistance Army, and in chronicling life histories of Swedish-based individuals traveling to as well as from the epicenter of war, the project delineates the different yet entangled ways people live through the realities of war. This anthropological approach provides the means to innovatively challenge established categorizations such as victim or perpetrator; local impunity or international criminal justice; Europe vis-à-vis Africa; centre vis-à-vis periphery; and last but not least, of peace and war in our times. Hereby the project raises the question about the possibility that peace and war, justice and impunity, and even democracy and violence may be globally interdependent in ways that we today only have a stereotypical understanding of. The phenomenology of war in northern Uganda may be just as European in character as it is African.

Read the project report/results here: http://anslag.rj.se/en/fund/41172