Concepts, Research, Policy
Edited by Sylvia Chant
Chapter 104: Masculinity, Poverty and the ‘New Wars’
Jane L. Parpart Introduction The spike in violent conflicts in the early 1990s inspired a body of scholarship seeking to explain this post-Cold War violence. Numerous labels emerged – internal, privatised or informal wars, postmodern wars, low-intensity conflicts, degenerate wars as well as the ‘new wars’ (Kaldor, 2006: 2). While varying in details, this literature generally argues that there has been a shift in the nature and style of conflict, fuelled by state failure in a world of economic neoliberalism, globalisation and growing inequality (Newman, 2004). While compelling in many ways, this literature has been roundly criticised, particularly for its assertion that these wars are fundamentally different in their methods, strategies, tactics and level of brutality. However, even its critics applaud the efforts to link contemporary conflicts with global economic forces. Moreover, the emergence of a developmentsecurity complex closely linked to peacekeeping and ‘the war on terror’ draws heavily on this literature to rationalise its assertion that poverty and inequality are at the centre of contemporary conflicts (Berdal, 2003; Duffield, 2001). To highlight poverty’s central role in war, the literature on the ‘new wars’ is strewn with pictures of impoverished, unemployed young men in ‘guerrilla chic’ clothing, with Ray-Ban sunglasses, waving AK47s menacingly in the back of pick-up trucks, suggesting a link between poverty, young males, masculinity and contemporary conflicts. Yet little is written or said about this intersection. The chapter proposes to explore this still rather uncharted arena with the aim of laying out an agenda for research. The ‘new...
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