Entgrenzte Gewalt - Unrestrained Violence

International Conference
07.11. – 09.11.2013 at University Gießen

Violence remains an immanent part of modern society, usually integrated into the symbolical as much as practical framing of social normality. Unrestrained violence, on the contrary, can’t be integrated, because it occurs unexpectedly and seemingly without any sense. Thus it demonstrates the vulnerability of social order and refutes the impression its normality was given without presupposition. Unrestrained violence is radically communicating the instability of a social framing of normality, therefore threatening the destabilization of society on the whole. Events of unrestrained violence — such as gun rampages or terrorist attacks — are a great challenge to social cohesion. Unrestrained violence massively transgresses the limitations of ‘regular’, to a certain extent expectable, and therefore normalized violence, seeing as it typically emerges from the centre of society. Consequently, it requires remarkable efforts concerning its social normalisation, the production of a coherent narration due to these events and their reintegration into the social realm.

If successful, society accomplishes to define the performance of violence as a social practice as unnecessary. As a consequence, social individuals perceive its absence as the very normality of their lifeworlds. However, although the ability for violence might dwell inside the individuals, violence also remains conspicuously omnipresent as cultural momentum and ubiquitously experienceable in the media. Yet forms of unrestrained violence do not only transgress the limits of a normalized (representation) of violence, but also invalidate them. They undermine  the idea of ‘normal’ violence as to some extent restrained. These forms of violence eliminate all connections to the social realm, calling the possibility of societalization into question.

The conference investigates different phenomena of unrestrained violence, focusing on the increasing regularity of such phenomena as much as on the enhanced awareness about them in a time when modern societies try to define their identity in categories of diversity, heterogeneity and hybridity. In this context, phenomena of unrestrained violence either appear as acts of social perversion or point to the not-yet-realized potential of a new, radical deviance. At the same time, unrestrained violence requires great efforts in terms of cultural and social cohesion by revealing the normative and institutional limitations of societalization.

Die Veranstaltung wurde durch die Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft gefördert.