Can violence create freedom? What if the cost of violent liberation is too high? How does one even calculate that when the status quo is a condition of sustained violence? It has been seventy years since Stalinism and the Algerian War forced Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre to clash over these questions in Les Temps modernes. At the time their debate earned the left’s attention, because it raised enduring dilemmas of revolutionary politics. It is hard to imagine mass social transformation without violence, but violence can sometimes undermine the ideals it is meant to secure. At the same time, choosing nonviolence sometimes means choosing the status quo’s endemic violence, its inhumanity—something underscored by social critics from Marx to Malcolm X. No doubt contemporary events like the Capitol attack on January 6th suggest these questions are as urgent as ever. Yet for all of the empirical sophistication added by scholars of violence in the last few decades, it isn’t clear we navigate these questions with any more confidence in 2021 than Sartre and Camus did in the 1950s.
Violence has not ceased to be of immediate concern. From reactionary movements globally to the everyday violence that makes the present moment so cruel, understanding violence remains a difficult, multidimensional problem. Then as now, knowing whether violence can convey us to a more equal society depends on finding a perspective that can grasp the violence of contemporary society adequately. “What is the nature of our society?” and “what is to be done?” can only ever be answered in tandem.
The March 2022 special issue of New Political Science invites scholars to engage these fundamental questions anew. Contributors might analyze formations of violence today. How should we conceptualize the violence of social reproduction? Are there neglected resources in history to diagnose everyday and spectacular violence, or do we need new bearings? How does violence manifest in the environment, aesthetics, and the psyche? Contributors might also consider how radicals and social movements think about violent action. What are the relationships between violence and mass politics? How do different ascriptive groups respond to, remember, and reenact the violence of their subjection? Can we neutralize the forms of structural violence that define our present, from economic precarity to racist policing?
New Political Science embraces a critical and interdisciplinary ethos, and so we invite submissions from scholars in and beyond political science. Contributions to political thought, intellectual and social history, and cognate fields that employ empirical, ethnographic, literary, and archival methods and global or comparative perspectives are all warmly encouraged.
This issue follows the standard double-blind peer review process for special issues. After a preliminary review by the guest editor, Kevin Duong, two blind peer reviewers will be selected and asked to evaluate the articles individually for the special issue. Manuscripts should be submitted to the guest editor for initial review at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following timeline will be followed for considering manuscripts:
June 15, 2021: Full manuscripts of 7,500 words due for consideration to special editor
August 1, 2021: Authors notified of decision to send out for blind peer review
October 15, 2021: Comments from peer reviewers returned to authorsJanuary 1, 2022: Final papers due to New Political Science