Architectures of Violence
The Command Structures of Modern Mass Atrocities
Most atrocities are committed by states yet they hide their culpability by recourse to paramilitary forces, as Ferguson explains.
October 2020 • £35.00
9781849048118 • 240pp
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Paramilitary or irregular units have been involved in practically every case of identity-based mass violence in the modern world, but detailed analysis of these dynamics is rare. Through exploring the case of former Yugoslavia, Kate Ferguson exposes the relationships between paramilitaries, state commands, local communities, and organised crime present in modern mass atrocities, from Rwanda and Darfur to Syria and Myanmar.
Visible paramilitary participation masks the continued dominance of the state in violent crises. Political elites benefit from using unconventional forces to fulfil ambitions that violate international law—and international policy responses are hindered when responsibility for violence is ambiguous. Ferguson’s inquiry into these overlooked dynamics of mass violence unveils substantial loopholes in current atrocity prevention architecture.
Kate Ferguson is Director of Research & Policy at the human rights NGO Protection Approaches, and Research Associate at the School of History, University of East Anglia, where she teaches on subjects of human rights, international justice, and humanitarianism. She tweets as @WordsAreDeeds.
‘This book provides a new understanding of the role of non-state military actors in identity-based conflicts. It is rich in detail and will contribute much to our understanding of the nature of non-state armed groups—rigorous and insightful.’ — Rachel Kerr, Reader in International Relations and Contemporary War, King’s College London
‘Architectures of Violence is a well-written, comprehensive study of paramilitarism during the wars in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Ferguson strikes a good balance between empirical depth and conceptual breadth—her conclusions are relevant beyond the specific dynamics of that conflict.’ — Uğur Üngör, Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Amsterdam