More on the Geographies of Violent Death

The events in Aurora this weekend re-awakened some horrible memories for those associated with Virginia Tech. In discussions on television and elsewhere, ‘Virginia Tech’ has unfortunately joined the litany of names of horrific acts of mass violence perpetrated by deranged individuals, the very name recalling the horror (and momentarily overriding all the other meanings it has in the public mind): “Columbine, Virginia Tech…..” (Observing the non-debate debate, the politicizing by decrying politicizing, the doubling down on denial — guns for everyone = safety not danger — has been interesting in that, more and more, these strategies, and ‘rights’ discourse, are being called out and deconstructed in public debate)

On the television we also see nightly scenes of horrific violent repression by the Syrian government of its own citizens. Less prominently covered but nevertheless also on BBC television at least is the M23 insurrection in eastern Congo that threatens to tear down the positive image Rwandan President Paul Kagame has long enjoyed in the West (he is listed on the Advisory Council for the 2011 World Development Report: Conflict, Security and Development, for example, along with some outstanding women like Madeleine Albright, Louise Arbour, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and other). And then there is Iraq where co-ordinated car bombs across the country on 23 July killed 116 people.

Both Aurora and the state-failing violence are spectacular kinetic forms of violence that attract considerable media interest. Less ‘big bang’ spectacular but nevertheless just as horrific is the violence Mexico has experienced over the last four years of the narco kingpin campaign of the outgoing government of Felipe Calderon, Indeed it is very spectacular in its own grizzly way. In a long chilling article New Yorker journalist William Finnegan recounts the elusive nature of the killings and the thoroughly corrupting nature of the drug production and transit industry. The events described therein are daily traumas inflected on a body politics that is long suffering, most especially poor and middle income residents of Mexico. With so much darkness close at hand and within, it is no wonder people seek escapism in stories of dark avengers. Tonight I’ll do the same.

About Dr Gerard Toal

Irish born academic living in Washington DC researching geopolitical competition and territorial conflicts in post-Communist Europe. Author of CRITICAL GEOPOLITICS (1996), BOSNIA REMADE (w C Dahlman) and NEAR ABROAD: PUTIN, THE WEST AND THE CONTEST OVER UKRAINE AND THE CAUCASUS (Oxford University Press, 2017).
This entry was posted in Africa, Congo, Current affairs, Geography, Washington D.C.. Bookmark the permalink.

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