by Catherine Fain & Morgan Phillips
Democratization and international conflict is a relevant global concern that rests at the top of the leading social scientist minds in the United States (Stojanowski & Duncan, 2015). Problems that stem from this concern, including broad cultural change and its impact on the individual level, are growing concerns in an increasingly globalized social world. Bioarchaeology is a field that integrates natural and social science with the humanities to develop knowledge about the past human experience (Stojanowski & Duncan, 2015). These “three bioarchaeologies” or three academic frames are uniquely positioned to discern the possibility of modern solutions through analyzing the lives of people in the past. Despite this, biosocial approaches to archaeology are underrepresented when confronting major social ills, including international conflict and the impact of democratization. This is evident when discussing experience during times of war and the formation of identity in conflict. These two essays will discuss conflict through the social science and humanities lenses. We believe that not only are these perspectives underrepresented, but that they provide the most useful analysis to contemporary discussion of globalization and modern conflict.
War is a universal activity endured by many societies across time and space. While the participation of war itself is a common human experience, the personal experience of war and the impacts war has on the individual are unique to a particular society, population, or individual.
War is a universal activity endured by many societies across time and space. While the participation of war itself is a common human experience, the personal experience of war and the impacts war has on the individual are unique to a particular society, population, or individual. Though war is a systematic, structured activity enacted by the state, the individual experience of war is uniquely personal. No one person experiences war the same, yet all who endure war are affected. The bioarchaeological study of those involved in various aspects of war using a humanistic approach demonstrates the truly personal experience an individual has during war time. The humanistic approach “studies and explores connections, differences, and shared experiences of human lives,” and attempts to explore “individuals’ and cultures’ experiences in the past” (Stojanowski & Duncan, 2015, p. 57). Morgan Phillips’ paper will delve into the individual experiences of wartime applying a humanistic lens to bioarchaeological evidence from case studies involving democratization. The individual wartime experience is observed in studies of citizens and of soldiers. Citizens enduring the Slavic invasion of Greece, European invasion of Gran Canaria, or a raid upon Croatian citizens demonstrate the individual-level experience of warfare as well as the contrasting experiences of warfare. This was also the case for Turkish akinji light cavalry, German soldiers from the Thirty Years War, and German soldiers from World War I. In these studies, bioarchaeologists reconstructs what it means to be a citizen or a soldier during war and the experience that it translates into. War pervaded each of these societies, but the people going through the war each had a unique experience of war. The humanistic approach to bioarchaeological remains offer vital insight into these varied experiences of war and is important in understanding how war is experienced on the individual level.
Group dynamics or state agency also factor into the experience of conflict and determine who is seen as an “other” or outsider. The second essay will examine the topic of Wari human sacrifice during the Middle Horizon period (AD600-1000) across Peru and the Andes. Comparisons will focus on the actions taken by the Wari state versus those taken by their contemporaries – the Tiwanaku – who faced similar levels of conflict in the same geographic area. Group efforts to identify non-locals included human sacrifice as their incorporation into Wari society. This also mandated the creation of a warrior class to rationalize mass violence. The cultural successors of the Wari, the Chanka and Quichua polities, will also be included to examine the treatment of non-locals following the collapse of the Wari Empire in AD 1100. This paper will emphasize the topic of identity, and the malleability of individual agency in times of war. Identity in times of conflict is critical to understanding democratization and globalized conflict, as the constant movement of non-local people is ubiquitous in modern society. Molding identity and integrating cultural outsiders is met with increasing tension, and this essay hopes to discuss the occurrences associated with integrating or excluding individuals from cultural participation.
Discussing experience and identity within warfare using a bioarchaeological framework draws attention to the importance of understanding how warfare pervades and effects societies throughout time.
Both malleability of experience in the warfare experience and identity during times of international conflict are implicated in the bioarchaeology of warfare. When democratization seeps into a society, the outcome is often war and the attempt to rob the endemic society of its own beliefs, ideas, and identity. Thus, discussing experience and identity within warfare using a bioarchaeological framework draws attention to the importance of understanding how warfare pervades and effects societies throughout time. With this understanding of the relationship between warfare and society comes an understanding of how the people within society dealt with times of warfare in terms of the diverse experiences and in terms of identity. The experience of warfare and a discussion of identity during international conflict will be discussed in detail in the essays that follow.
Stojanowski, C.M., & Duncan, W. N. (2015). Engaging bodies in the public imagination: bioarchaeology as social science, science, and humanities. American Journal of Human Biology, 27, 51-60.
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