The Human Potential for Peace: An Anthropological Challenge to Assumptions about War and Violence

Paperback | August 24, 2005

byDouglas P. Fry

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In The Human Potential for Peace: An Anthropological Challenge to Assumptions about War and Violence, renowned anthropologist Douglas P. Fry shows how anthropology--with its expansive time frame and comparative orientation--can provide unique insights into the nature of war and the potentialfor peace. Challenging the traditional view that humans are by nature primarily violent and warlike, Professor Fry argues that along with the capacity for aggression humans also possess a strong ability to prevent, limit, and resolve conflicts without violence. Raising philosophy of science issues,the author shows that cultural beliefs asserting the inevitability of violence and war can bias our interpretations, affect our views of ourselves, and may even blind us to the possibility of achieving security without war. Fry draws on data from cultural anthropology, archaeology, and sociology aswell as from behavioral ecology and evolutionary biology to construct a biosocial argument that challenges a host of commonly held assumptions. The Human Potential for Peace includes ethnographic examples from around the globe, findings from Fry's research among the Zapotec of Mexico, and results of cross-cultural studies on warfare. In showing that conflict resolution exists across cultures and by documenting the existence ofnumerous peaceful societies, it demonstrates that dealing with conflict without violence is not merely a utopian dream. The book also explores several highly publicized and interesting controversies, including Freeman's critique of Margaret Mead's writings on Samoan warfare; Napoleon Chagnon'sclaims about the Yanomamo; and ongoing evolutionary debates about whether "hunter-gatherers" are peaceful or warlike. The Human Potential for Peace is ideal for undergraduate courses in political and legal anthropology, the anthropology of peace and conflict, peace studies, political sociology, andthe sociology of war and violence. Written in an informal style with numerous entertaining examples, the book is also readily accessible to general readers.

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In The Human Potential for Peace: An Anthropological Challenge to Assumptions about War and Violence, renowned anthropologist Douglas P. Fry shows how anthropology--with its expansive time frame and comparative orientation--can provide unique insights into the nature of war and the potentialfor peace. Challenging the traditional view t...

Douglas P. Fry is at University of Arizona.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 6.1 × 9.09 × 0.79 inPublished:August 24, 2005Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195181786

ISBN - 13:9780195181784

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Robert A. Hinde: Preface: 1. Questioning the War AssumptionA Preview of Coming Attractions2. The Peace System of the Upper XinguA Peace SystemSocial Organization3. Taken for Granted: The Human Potential for PeaceAvoidanceTolerationNegotiationSettlementCultural Beliefs and Aggression PreventionPoints to Highlight4. Making the Invisible Visible: Belief Systems in San Andres and La PazSo Near and Yet So FarDifferent Learning EnvironmentsMulticausality and MultidimensionalitySome Broader Implications5. The Cross-Cultural Peacefulness-Aggressiveness ContinuumA Peacefulness-Aggressiveness ContinuumGrowing Interest in Peaceful SocietiesPeaceful Societies: Not Such a Rare Breed After All6. Peace StoriesThe Semai of MalaysiaIfaluk of MicronesiaNorwegians: A Nation at PeaceReturning to Hidden Assumptions7. A Hobbesian Belief System? On the Supposed Naturalness of WarWarfare and Feuding from a Cross-Cultural PerspectiveNonwarring Cultures8. Social Organization Matters!Types of Social OrganizationThe Link betwen Warfare and Social OrganizationSocial Organization and Seeking JusticeImplications9. Paradise Denied: A Bizarre Case of SkullduggeryThe Unmaking of the Myth-Weaver10. Re-Creating the Past in Our Own ImageAssumptions Come Tumbling DownThe Earliest Evidence of War11. Cultural Projections12. Aboriginal Australia: A Continent of Unwarlike Hunter-GatherersThe Paucity of WarfareConflict ManagementSumming Up13. War-Laden Scenarios of the Past: Uncovering a Heap of Faulty AssumptionsMaking the Implicit ExplicitThe Patrilineal-Patrilocal AssumptionThe Assumption of the Tight-Knit, Bounded GroupThe Assumption of Pervasively Hostile Interband Relations14. More Faulty AssumptionsThe Assumption of Warring over Scarce ResourcesThe Assumption of Warring over LandThe Assumption of Warring over WomenThe Assumption of LeadershipSumming Up15. Much Ado about the YanomamoThe Famous Yanomamo UnokaisBroader IssuesMethodological and Analytical Issues: Questioning the "Obvious"The Heart of the MatterWhy So Much Ado?16. Windows to the Past: Conflict Management Case StudiesSirionoMontagnais-NaskapiPaliyanNetsilik InuitJu/'hoansiLessons from the Case Studies17. Untangling War from Interpersonal AggressionNatural SelectionNatural Environments and the EEA Concept"Flexible" Adapatations, Sexual Selection, and Sex Differences in AggressionThe Costs and Benefits of Aggression to Individual FitnessInclusive Fitness18. An Alternative Evolutionary Perspective: The Nomadic Forager ModelHuman Hawks, Doves, and RetaliatorsCosts and Benefits of AggressionRestraintInclusive FitnessAssessing the Overall Patterns and Recurring ThemesWarring as an Adaption? The Twin Problems of Confusing Function with Effect and Aggression with WarfareConclusions19. Weighing the Evidence20. Enhancing PeaceA Macroscopic Perspective: The Human Capacity to Move beyond WarSpecific Insights for Keeping the PeaceConclusionsAppendix: Organizations to Contact: Notes: References: Index:

Editorial Reviews

"Amongst the various anthropological texts that have emerged over the last decade, this is clearly one of the most important. At a time when practitioners in the social sciences continue to haggle over the relative merits of interdisciplinary approaches, of paradigm shifts, and of the role ofwar and peace in human endeavors, this book strikes a relevant chord. Douglas Fry reminds us that in the human experience it is neither solely nature nor nurture, neither aggression nor camaraderie, rather it is a complex synthesis of human endeavors resulting in a clear and resounding potential forpeace."--Agustin Fuentes, Department of Anthropology, University of Notre Damea href=" http://www.peacefulsocieties.org/NAR/051222gen.html"Read the full review here./a