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Anthropology and War

Anthropological approaches to the study of war are varied. Warfare has been studied in a comparative perspective, as structurally institutionalized, and as a sociobiological imperative. Anthropologists have documented war, not simply as historical occurrence but as a social process with repercussions on the societies affected. Governments have enlisted the aid of anthropologists in warfare, using anthropological insights to demonize the enemy, to inflict effective psychological tortures, and, recently, to liaise with local populations, and to engineer new societal constructs commensurate with peace and democracy.

Early anthropological models classified whole societies as either Apollonian or Dionysian. Either type may be given to warfare, but Apollonian cultures approach war with standards of honor, even beauty, while Dionysian violence is chaotic and anarchistic. Other anthropological models contrasted societies' uses ...

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