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Minerva Research Focus: "Emotions, Violence & Peace"

(project finished since 9/2014)
The association of violence with anger and aggression has been extensively documented by research. New studies show that violence might also be associated with fun and joy, solidarity and sympathy. But it is not only the person engaged in violent acts that feels, it is also the victims of violence that experience a wide range of emotions-fear and shame, helplessness and anger. Even observing violent acts may evoke different feelings.

Which feelings are generated by violence and which feelings are important for the exertion of force is always dictated by the specific situations. The effect of emotions on acting in a violent manner is similarly crucial: Emotions may intensify or weaken violent outbursts.

The research project focuses on the relation between emotions and acts of violence. Has the relationship between violence and emotions changed over the course of history? Do societies differ in terms of the way feelings and violence are linked?

In order to clarify this, the research project on violent practices employs a diachronic comparative analysis from a transnational perspective. Violence is defined here as physical force between two or more persons. Emotions are perceived as an interpersonal phenomenon linking people and things. Emotions are methodologically regarded as social practices in interpersonal networks. The first step in analyzing the relationship between violence and emotions will be to map the relevant feelings involved as they are discussed by the actors. Those emotions will then be examined in their historical development and shifts: when does a shooting spree become amok and what ideas are contained in the emotional terms in question? Finally, the emotions will be linked to social history categories and it will be questioned whether and how age, gender, occupation, religion and nationality influence the link between emotions and violent acts. More specifically the project revolves around three areas:

  • Abandoned by God, angry or cold? Amok runs from a transnational perspective
  • Trigger-happy. German shooting practices between pleasure and fear
  • No trust for the perpetrators of genocide?