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The Morality of Martiality: Beyond Good and Evil in Liberation Struggles

This is an interdisciplinary research project on the morality of martiality. The idea is to develop a conceptually complex and empirically grounded reflection on martiality, that is, the theories and practices related to combat and struggle, defense and self-defense. The focus is on the moral dimension of martialiality, that is, the application of categories like good and evil, right and wrong, to condemn some practices and condone others. I challenge the position of moral purism that condemns all violent action, and suggest an alternative morality “beyond good and evil” that considers the morally mixed character of struggle from the standpoint of subjugated social groups. The goal is not suggest that “might is right” but to offer a contextualized reflection on human violence, construed broadly as bodily force and vital energy that may have life-affirming as well as destructive expressions. This project combines conceptual analysis with concrete case studies. The conceptual aspect of martial morality is developed drawing on a broad intellectual library including decolonial and feminist sources. The liberation struggles in post-apartheid South Africa provide a case study, with the divided legacy of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s political life serving as an opportunity to transcend the prevalent “good versus bad” narratives.


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Book/Book Chapter

Stawarska, Beata. 2020. Saussure’s Linguistics, Structuralism, and Phenomenology. Cham: Springer International Publishing.

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Is any information on this page incorrect or outdated? Please notify Ms. Nel-Mari Loock at [email protected].