Koloma Beck: Theorising normalisation in/of armed conflict

In the last presentation, Teresa Koloma Beck proposed a conceptual framework for studying the everyday of violent conflict. She argued that any attempt in this direction should be based on a thorough understanding of the everyday as such. She pointed out that in social science research, the everyday is frequently understood as a disaggregated level of society, which is similar to the “local” and complementary to the “national” and “international”. Contrary to such conceptions, she proposed – drawing on concepts from pragmatism and phenomenology – to understand the “everyday” as a particular form of experience. These experiences are characterised by pre-reflective forms of conduct, habitualised behaviour and an unbroken flow of the consciousness – they are ordinary or “selbstverständlich“.

Koloma Beck showed how such a perspective re-orients research towards the study of adaptive processes on the individual as well as on the collective level, focussing not only on patterns of thinking, but also on those of acting. Studying armed conflict in an everyday perspective then means asking how armed conflict turns into an ordinary experience.

In the end, the presented some insights gained using this perspective in an analysis of the civil war in Angola.

Related publication: Koloma Beck, Teresa. 2012. The normality of civil war. Armed groups and everyday life in Angola. Frankfurt/Main: Campus.

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