The anthropology of organized violence
While all branches of the social sciences and humanities focus on human behavior, the discipline of anthropology takes seriously the tremendous task of understanding human cultures in the past and present, and through the far-focused lens of Darwinian evolution.
When examining the behavior of soldiers, cartels, and others who organize for violence, we could limit ourselves to an economical or political perspective, but we would miss out on one of the great debates of our time: to what extent does human evolution shape, limit, or encourage our participation in violence?
At this point, the scholarly community has a pretty good hold on how and why individuals engage in violence against one another. Murderous aggression is depressingly predictable from an evolutionary perspective.
But what about when we organize or cooperate for violence? The organized violence in our societies is costly, dangerous, and universal, and the complexity of our cooperative violence outstrips any other species.
My dissertation on 'special forces' serves as a launching point for several further lines of inquiry:
1. The mutable ways in which humans interpret their participation in violence throughout their lifetime.
2. The incentives young people (especially males) respond to when choosing to participate in organized violence.
3. The status accorded "men in uniform" depending upon their participation on actual acts violence. What kind of violence is condoned? What kind of violence is discouraged? What punishments or rewards are meted out after participation in violence?
4. What symbols are used among in-group participants in organized violence, and how are those symbols interpreted by out-groups?