Teresa Koloma Beck: Armed Groups as Lifeworlds

Stephan Malthaner, who had been scheduled as the second speaker in the first panel, unfortunately had to cancel his participation.

Related Publication: Malthaner, Stefan. 2011. Mobilizing the faithful. Militant islamist groups and their constituencies. Frankfurt/Main [et al.]: Campus.

Teresa Koloma Beck stepped in and presented on Armed Groups as Lifeworlds. She proposed to complement the understanding of armed group as organisations with a perspective of armed groups as lifeworlds, and to conceive the relationship between organisational and lifeworldly structures in terms of interpenetration. In a case study of the Angolan UNITA she showed how such a perspective sheds new light on how armed groups deal with basic organisational problem. In UNITA’s case, the armed group had systematically organised lifeworldly structures such as school education, healthcare, agricultural work and the family to stabilise its organisational structure. In UNITA’s military bases “normal” civilian life was staged and played by the rules of UNITA leadership. The aim was to “civilise” the combatant and thus to counter the risk of violence derailing.

The following discussion revolved around the question in how far the concept of interpenetration is appropriate for describing the role of lifeworldly structures for the stabilisation of an armed group organisation. Going back to the debate between Niklas Luhmann and Jürgen Habermas, colonisation was proposed as an alternative concept.    

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

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