The study of political violence sits at the centre of my research agenda and is the locus around which many of my more conceptual or theoretical concerns (aesthetics, design, critique) are empirically explored. My approach to political violence is unusual. I am focused on understanding the practical enaction of violence in lived, experiential, or embodied terms. As such, I have interviewed and conducted participant observation with perpetrators of torture and members of designated terrorist groups, as well as conducted an ethmonethodological analysis of hundreds of perpetrator-filmed videos of ‘violence in action.’ These empirical inquiries have allowed my research to gain a unique insight into the ‘just-whatness’ of political violence.

Conceptually, I draw on an eclectic mix of approaches in order to understand how the perpetration of aberrant forms of political violence (torture, the targeting of civilians, terrorist acts, etc.) becomes possible. This includes drawing on tools from micro-sociology, science and technology studies, practice theory, cognitive philosophy, theories of affect, and beyond. Work outlining my findings has been published in leading journals and in monograph form. Following from this work, I am now leading the Violence Prevention (VIPRE) Initiative, which explores how new sociological (material-semiotic) perspectives can aid in the prevention of violent human rights abuses.

Project Platform: www.vipre.ch

 

© J.L.Austin

Khiam, Lebanon