Part or chapter of a book
Graduating to Violence: The Escalation of Student Strife at Karachi University, 1979–1989
London : Hurst Publishers
197 - 216 p.
Pakistan, Karachi University, violence
Social sciences and political science in particular have generally been more concerned with the “root causes” or “raw conditions” of political violence than with the way it unfolds. Dominant approaches have hitherto focused on why men rebel, kill, and get killed, rather than how. But this search for “background explanations”, based on the study of motivations and opportunities, exposes itself to several pitfalls. The first consists in assigning motivations to these actors—and particularly those involved in acts of self-sacrificial violence—without even bothering to consider what they have to say about their own actions, resulting in “fictions that justify our responses but that we cannot verify”. And when social scientists do bother to talk to these actors, it is generally to record narratives of past engagement and violence, which often leads to conflating their justifications with their motivations, while—wrongly—assuming that “violence is easy once the motivation exists...