Fabio Dei

The Violence between Anthropological and Humanitarian Discourse

  • Abstract

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Keywords: anthropology, human rights, Female Genital Mutilation, child soldier, relativism/universalism

Anthropological and humanitarian discourses approach the problem of mass violence in contemporary global society in quite different ways. This paper, starting from two recent studies by C. Pasquinelli and D. Rosen, explores the contrast between anthropological and human-rights visions focusing on two topics: FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and child soldiers. Despite their diversity, both cases show the ambiguity of the human rights universalist approach. In the main, it fails to understand local and contextual meanings of violence and suffering, imposing on a worldwide scale a narrow and ethnocentric model of the human subject. Still more important, humanitarian universalism is oriented towards an "ethics of intention" as opposed to an "ethics of responsibility".

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