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Close icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification. Laura McCamy. The Atomic Bomb Dome: Hiroshima remembers. Hiroshima shadows: after the blast.


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The movement for peace in Hiroshima. A day in the life of Hiroshima. Survivors take action for disarmament and advocate for world peace. A city that promotes world peace.

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Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony. A historic meeting in Hiroshima. The soldier who aims the gun aims along years of training, not only on how to kill, but how to draw divisions, hatred, fears, and justifications—a mix of cultural and military lore that has been fed by everything from local grievances through foreign military advisors to global media and music.

It was at the height of the war in Mozambique, itself a long way from Europe and the conflicts in Northern Ireland. The boy and I sat in a bombed-out town in the middle of Mozambique, many hundreds of kilometers from the country's capital and cosmopolitan centers. We were, as traditional scholarship would say, in a profoundly "local" setting. The boy was thin, and dressed only in a pair of tattered shorts and T-shirt. His gun was strung on an old piece of cloth. He had been press-ganged into joining the military, and had never left his home village region until he walked out as a "soldier" about the time he hit puberty.

The boy settled in the sun, and began to talk: You know, these white guys are often a whole lot meaner than we are. I mean, we fight and we kill and all, but it's like these white guys think killing is the answer to everything. We have so many white guys, so many foreigners, around; training us, getting mad at us, fighting us, making money from us. Some are OK, I got sent to this training camp far away, and there were some who were friendly, tried to make sure we got enough to eat, and worked to teach us.

People from all over. Got a whole lot of strange ideas, stuff that sometimes' useful, but a lot of times just didn't make a lot of sense, like it was a lot of trouble to do things that way, and dangerous too. I think fighting like that gives them weird ideas about fighting.

Bruce Lee, he laughs , now that's who they should send out to train us. That's where it's at. But who knows, it's all beyond trying to guess. Truth is, I don't think a lot of these guys care if we win or lose. We all see them moving on the mines, doing "business. If I were going to understand this war, and this youth's experiences in it, what story would I best follow?

I could follow his movements; those of his compatriots and the foreigners he interacted with; the media and movies that shaped his ideas; the war merchants and profiteers from around the world that passed through his life, his country, and its war; the various cultures of militarization that move from warzone to warzone around the world; the vast international systems of economic gain that shape political violence.

This "local" youth-soldier was far from "local. Where does war begin and end? Ethnography must be able to bring a people and a place to life in the eyes and hearts of those who have not been there. But it must also be able to follow not a place, but "place-less-ness," the flows of a good, an idea, an international military culture, a shadow; of the way these place-less realities intersect and are shaped by associations with other places and other place-less forces. And, as this book will explore in discussing shadow powers, ethnography must be able to illuminate not only a non-place, but also the invisible—that which is rendered non-visible for reasons of power and profit.

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Power circulates in the corridors of institutions and in the shadows. I will in fact argue that ethnography is an excellent way to study the invisibilities of power—invisibility that is in part constructed by convincing people not to study the shadows, convincing them that the place-less is impossible to situate in study, that it is "out of site.

In a study such as this, some things must remain in the shadows, unseen. And this in turn requires new considerations of what constitutes ethnography. Anthropology developed as a discipline rooted in fieldwork, and as such it named names and mapped places. In the localized settings in which anthropologists worked, every quote was enmeshed in a web of social relations such that everyone knew who spoke, to whom, and why.

It was this "factuality" that lent anthropology an aura of objectivity; and alternatively, the respect of the subject. But war and the shadows change this equation. Local knowledge is crucial to understanding, yet quoting local informants can mean a death sentence for them. When it comes to massacres, human rights violations, massive corruption, and global profiteering, even situating one's quotes and data in a "locatable" place and person can be dangerous.

Academic responsibility here rests in protecting one's sources, not in revealing them. Traditional scholarship might say that leaving out the names and the places behind the quotes waters down the impact of the research. Having struggled with this question for years now, I have come to disagree. Part of the reason so many aspects of war and extra-state behavior are "invisible" to formal accounting is precisely the problems and dangers of the research: people elect not to publish at all in lieu of endangering their work by asking, and then repeating, the "unspeakable. The systems of knowledge and action that undergird these realities resonate around the world.


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Exposing the name of the poor peasant who saw his family murdered will not shed light on the circumstances surrounding that murder—it will merely endanger his life; and exposing the name of the general who is profiteering from war will not illuminate the international networks of extra-legal economies and power—it will merely endanger my ability to return to this field site. This is not to leave a study hanging in mid-air. The field data presented in my work is all firsthand. In lieu of naming specific names, it sheds light on roles found from one conflict to the next; it maps the flux and flow of violence, shadow powers, and peace-building along connected sites to larger transnational patterns.

The quotes throughout this work are from people who populate the immediacy of these realities. In protecting these people and their larger stories, I have given considerable thought as to how to present each story: in some cases I situate it in a locale; in others a region, and in those most sensitive I leave the story sans-locale altogether. When asked to provide more concrete and situated data—the names and places of traditional scholarship—I must respond that endangering those with whom we work endangers the very integrity of our discipline.

Weaving together these layers and levels is the best way I know at present to explore, and begin to expose, the visible and invisible realities that attend to war, peace, and shadow powers that are shaping the course of the twenty-first century. I'll never know why my friend in Sri Lanka left her handbag, wrap, and suitcase in the roadway, yet carried a watermelon as she struggled to get home through the rioting. She says she doubts she will ever figure it out herself.

But we speculated about this for months: You know, she said , it seems illogical to leave what I might most need in the midst of a life-threatening night. But, when you think of it, it seems illogical to kill people for an identity: are you Tamil, Sinhalese, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist? It seems illogical to target people on their jobs and associations, voter registration designations, and location of their homes. My handbag was filled with such "identity": my registrations and designations, licenses and addresses.

It just occurred to me: these are like licenses to kill. Leaving my glasses, my keys? Perhaps I just didn't want to see what was going on; and what are keys but an illusion of safety shattered by mobs who just break windows and enter houses? What did I care that night if I broke my window to get into my home? If I had to break in, that would be wonderful, it would mean my house had not been attacked. My suitcase?

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It was heavy, and when your life is on the line, all those pretty saris and comfortable shoes don't mean a whole lot. But I think it was more: all around me people were looting the goods of the maimed and the murdered, of the burning shops and the deserted houses. What have we humans become, I believe I worried that night, that we will feast on the dead for a television or a trinket?

When did we begin to value goods above good? My suitcase, filled with my goods, became heavy in more ways than one. I left those behind. I left behind the presents I bought for my family. Somehow I think they seemed to embody the religious strife that was tearing my country to shreds that night. But that watermelon. It was heavy, and unwieldy, and I can't imagine what I looked like, an old mother struggling down burning streets covered in dirt and ash carrying a large watermelon in her arms.

But it was something pure of violence; a present for my family that cost no one their life; something that seemed to represent sanity and succor in a world gone mad. A watermelon carries its own seeds for the future. Perhaps that is what I was trying to do. Notes 1. The riots reflected larger and more enduring religious, ethnic, and political fissures in Sri Lanka. The population of the country is 30 percent Sinhalese Sinhala speaking Buddhists, and approximately 12 percent Tamil Tamil speaking Hindu. Government and military positions are predominately held by Sinhalese Buddhists.

The Tamils, a majority of whom live in the North of the country, have long sought better representation in government and policy—either by democratic process or by the creation of a separate state. In , an armed Tamil faction retaliated against government repression of Tamils by a guerrilla attack that killed thirteen soldiers.

The riots were ostensibly sparked by this: some Sinhalese including civilians, soldiers, religious figures, and government employees formed into mobs and attacked Tamils. Tamils did not riot against the Sinhalese in return. The violence spread nationwide and lasted a full week, during which time thousands of Tamils lost their lives and one-sixth of the country's infrastructure was destroyed. Wildcatting, as I use the term here, is based in international business concerns that can be legal, indeterminately legal, or downright illegal—but yield quick, and often vast, profits, commonly in the context of political instability.

War so little matches classic accounts of war that a truism has emerged for me through the years I have studied violence at its epicenters: if you want to prepare yourself for studying violence and peace, assume that what popular wisdom in society—the prefabricated configurations of "truth" that ripple across the fluid bodies of social talk and text—tells you is exactly the opposite.

These shadows are not peripheral to a country's economic and political systems, but deeply enmeshed in them, as the following quote addresses: "How has this happened? It is an astonishing and lamentable chapter in the history of American law enforcement that almost until the end of a half century as Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover denied the existence of "mafia" or "Cosa Nostra" and refused to devote any special intelligence or law enforcement resources to this species of American criminal.

It is not only law enforcement that has failed to come to grips with organized crime. The American political system has not set itself against organized crime, in part no doubt because organized crime is active in politics. The work presented here is not traditional ethnography, though it may well become traditional along the course of a continuously interconnected twenty-first century.

It addresses questions that flow across borders and neat distinctions. The idea that ethnography might expand from its committed localism to represent a system much better apprehended by abstract models and aggregate statistics seems antithetical to its very nature and thus beyond its limits. Although multi-sited ethnography is an exercise in mapping terrain, its goal is not holistic representation and ethnographic portrayal of the world system as a totality.

For ethnography, then, there is no global in the local-global contrast now so frequently evoked. The global is an emergent dimension of arguing about the connection among sites in a multi-sited ethnography. We can no longer separate images of Vietnam from rock'n'roll era music, stories of the rebels in Sierra Leone from the movie Rambo: First Blood, Bosnia from the feature-length films set in the war, Afghanistan from CNN.

About the Book In this provocative and compelling examination of the deep politics of war, Carolyn Nordstrom takes us from the immediacy of war-zone survival, through the offices of power brokers, to vast extra-legal networks that fuel war and international profiteering. From Our Blog. Reviews "This should be made into a movie! What Happened in Hiroshima During the post-war period, when people were suffering acute shortages of goods, it was not easy for Sasaki, a native photographer, to even get film.

A Record of Devastation With only one atomic bomb, the city of Hiroshima was reduced to ashes. Looking west from Nakajima-hon-machi Nakajima-hon-machi now, Nakajima-cho Approx.

2. The Atomic Bomb Dome: Hiroshima remembers

The distant square building at the center of this photo is the Kodo Elementary School, which closed after the end of the war. A wall distorted by blast Kokutaiji-machi now, Kokutaiji-machi 1-chome Approx. A human shadow burned in stone Kamiya-cho now, Kamiya-cho 1-chome Approx. A burned-out streetcar Takajo-machi now, Honkawa-cho 2-chome Approx. Road construction and a baby carriage Right Kanayama-cho A woman working at a road construction site in front of the Nikko Securities Hiroshima Branch is lulling her baby, whom she had brought with her in a baby carriage, during a work break. Delays in demolition slowed the progress of paving, so the street often became muddy due to rain, causing much trouble for passersby.

Hard Times The reconstruction of Hiroshima, which lay in ruins, began from individual efforts of people who had lost their homes. Clean-up after destruction by fire Ebisu-cho People clearing rubble and leveling ground on the south side of Fukuya Department Store. Day laborers including A-bomb survivors and veterans were engaged in clean-up operations in areas destroyed by fire.

A partially collapsed house Dambara-ohata-cho now, Dambara 1-chome Trees along the street were toppled and the walls of private houses were reduced to rubble by the blast. Eight years after the A-bombing, many people still lived in partially collapsed houses.