2016: Volume 9 Issue 1

Reassessing the Authoritarianism-Political Violence Nexus

Violence and democracy are not given social phenomena. They are contested, ever changing concepts. In a recent and polemic statement, David Cameron, leader of the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party and current prime-minister, declared Jeremy Corbyn a ‘threat to national security’ (Jones 2015). Cameron did not refer to a convicted criminal, the leader of a terrorist group or an invader from outer space with a rather Anglicized name. The prime-minister was talking about the recently elected leader of the Labour Party, the second largest political force in the British parliament. For Cameron, Corbyn’s electoral success signalled a threat to national and economic security. Not only is does this affair highlight the sassy usage of social media by politicians, but incidentally sheds light on the contentious grounds surrounding the concepts of violence and democracy. Cameron’s remark invites a reflection on how everyday political practices, even those we accept as inherently democratic, can conceal expressions of violence.

This edition of Political Perspectives focuses on the concepts of authoritarianism and political violence. In the light of recent global events, there is a clear need to carefully re-assess the two phenomena, to re-interpret their role within contemporary political life. The growth of the extreme right in Europe, the violent responses to popular movements in Venezuela, Thailand and Turkey, and the Israeli military campaign in Gaza have once again put the distinction between democracy/authoritarianism into question, rendering the boundaries between legitimate and illegitimate violence somehow less translucent. This Political Perspectives special edition looks at associations between democracy/peace and authoritarianism/violence and how to question the unquestionable equation between liberal democracy and a post-conflictual ethos.


Introduction: The Authoritarianism-Political Violence Nexus - by Gabriel Fernandes Pimenta,

Universidade Federal de Uberlandia and Henrique Tavares Furtado, University of Manchester

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Authoritarianism of the Everyday: Identity and Power in Public Space - by Robin Trenbath, University of Manchester

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Divine Violence and Reparative Justice: The Spheres of Radical Democracy - by Alexandra Leong, University of Minnesota

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The Third Margin of the River: International Relations Narratives and Authoritarian Violence in South America - Gabriel Fernandes Pimenta, Universidade Federal de Uberlandia

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