Call for Papers

The Political Violence of Capital: Paramilitary Formations
In Global Perspective
Editors: Jasmin Hristov, Jeb Sprague-Silgado and Aaron Tauss

Paramilitary violence is a specific type of violence exercised by non-state actors and/or state agents operating outside the boundaries of legality, on behalf of economically and politically powerful social forces. Its objectives typically revolve around attacking social movements, activists, Leftist politicians and other individuals or groups who challenge the established social order, as well as facilitating land acquisition through the forced displacement of civilians from land of strategic economic importance. Paramilitary groups may also perform other functions such as ‘social cleansing’, and ‘protection’ of private property. Despite its anti-democratic character, over the past decades paramilitarism has evolved as a revamped strategy pursued by dominant groups and elites operating through different state apparatuses primarily in developing countries. Today paramilitary formations are present in varying degrees across the Americas and other areas worldwide. A central characteristic common to all is their alliance with capital and, frequently, a mutually supportive relationship with the state’s coercive apparatus and possibly other state institutions, ranging from complicity to active collaboration. In nations where economic elites are contesting reformist, nationalist, or Left-oriented governments, paramilitary groups have been used to destabilize the regime and undermine its popular support. As is well documented, paramilitary actors have been responsible for some of the most horrifying human rights violations and yet this type of violence is very poorly understood and investigated. In part, this has to do with the fact that paramilitaries are often categorized as “organized crime” which strips the political motivations and social consequences of their actions.

This edited volume examines the pervasive and persistent but little understood phenomenon of paramilitarism and its varying expressions throughout the world. Our aim is to reveal some of the most common features that characterize paramilitary groups such as: a)  use of violence to facilitate the accumulation of capital accumulation by transnational corporations and local companies integrated within the global  economy; b) engagement in human rights violations and illegal activities; c) attacks against social movements, Leftist organizations or individuals, and poor rural or urban communities; d)  collaboration with sectors of national and/or transnational state forces, e)  ‘security’ as an ideological cover, and f) a trend towards flexibilization and decentralization of forces. The objective is to compile empirically-oriented investigations that enable us to theorize and understand the role of paramilitaries in the processes of capitalist globalization and the increasing exacerbation of social inequalities. We are especially interested in demonstrating that although frequently the lines between paramilitarism and organized crime are blurry and fluid, paramilitary violence has comparatively much deeper implications and hence cannot simply be reduced to criminal activities. We are also open to exploring different possible configurations in the relationship between paramilitary groups, rival political factions, organized crime, and other actors.

We are seeking proposals /abstracts of 500 words maximum for chapter contributions to the volume. We encourage submissions of proposals for works that address paramilitary violence in any part of the world. The deadline for submitting a proposal is November 1, 2016. Please include your full name, institutional affiliation, and current position in the same Word document as the abstract. Acceptance notification will be sent out by Nov 15. If accepted, contributors will be given a general list of guiding questions that should be addressed in their work and completed chapters would be due by March 15, 2017.

Please insert in the subject line of your email: “paramilitary proposal” and send your document as an attachment to:

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