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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Violence as a form of communication: making sense of violence in South Africa
Author:van der Merwe, HugoISNI
Periodical:African Journal on Conflict Resolution (ISSN 1562-6997)
Geographic term:South Africa
State-society relationship
Abstract:The meaning, persistence and scale of violence in South African society is examined against the backdrop of its violent past, using a perspective suggested by Hendrik W. van de Merwe ('H.W.') and Sue Williams in an article in 1987: understanding violence as a form of communication. Their article essentially argued that violence and negotiations are two ends of a continuum of communication. They are both intended to convey a message. People resort to physical violence especially when they feel that other avenues for communicating their message have been blocked. In order to de-escalate or resolve a conflict it is necessary to help the different sides to look more sympathetically at the opponents' actions, to understand the meaning of violent acts, and to put them in perspective. The article was published when the conflict between the apartheid government and the liberation movements appeared particularly intractable. While warning against the consequences of violence as the default communication setting, H.W. and Williams sought to explore the positive avenues that are present in South African society, but which are not sufficiently acknowledged as a part of its tradition and as having been critical in many of its successes. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [ASC Leiden abstract]