What Constitutes the State’s Culture of Political Violence?

Insight Turkey Volume 19 No 2, 2017


Designing Peace: Cyprus and Institutional Innovations in Divided Societies
By Neophytos Loizides
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015, 264 pages, $75.00, ISBN 9780812247756

Domestic Role Contestation, Foreign Policy, and International Relations
By Cristian Cantir and Juliet Kaarbo
New York and London: Routledge, 2016, 228 pages, $28.90, ISBN: 9781138653818

Time, Temporality and Violence in International Relations: (De)fatalizing the Present, Forging Radical Alternatives
By Anna M. Agathangelou and Kyle D. Killian
New York and London: Routledge, 2016, 342 pages, $160.00, ISBN: 9780415712712




A culture of political violence is the configuration of factors which exist lastingly in a political subject’s milieu, and determine if and to what extent the use of violence is acceptable to and allowable by this subject. This theoretical category is highly applicable to explain why some states, political groups, social movements, and individuals use political violence eagerly while others are reluctant to do so. Its model may consist of various analytical levels determined according to the type of its subject. This review article introduces and critically discusses recent contributions to studies on states’ cultures of political violence. Their authors agree with the assumption that a culture of political violence cannot be directly measured; they have diverse analytical proposals for what variables should be taken into consideration when a model is constructed.

Designing Peace: Cyprus and Institutional Innovations in Divided Societies by Neophytos Loizides concentrates on the analytical levels of domestic politics and international relations by showing the relationships between institutional innovations and designing peace processes. Although the same levels are covered by Domestic Role Contestation, Foreign Policy, and International Relations edited by Cristian Cantir and Juliet Kaarbo, they are elaborated in the latter from the perspective of different factors. The contributors scrutinize national role conflict in advanced democracies, thus shedding light on role contestation among political elites and between elites and the general public. In turn, Time, Temporality and Violence in International Relations: (De) fatalizing the Present, Forging Radical Alternatives, edited by Anna M. Agathangelou and Kyle D. Killian, offers important insights into political violence at the individual, social, and international relations level. Its authors delve analytically into the experiences and structures of political violence in relation to time, oppression, neocolonization, slavery, war, poverty, and exploitation. These books differ considerably in terms of their methodological, theoretical, and empirical approaches towards individuals, society, domestic politics, and international relations as the analytical levels of the state’s culture of political violence. This article summarizes them, and then provides an analysis and critical evaluation of their approaches by assessing their contributions to existing studies on the culture of political violence.

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