Shadows of War: Violence, Power, and International Profiteering in the Twenty-First Century

Shadows of War: Violence, Power, and International Profiteering in the Twenty-First Century

Shadows of War: Violence, Power, and International Profiteering in the Twenty-First Century

Shadows of War: Violence, Power, and International Profiteering in the Twenty-First Century


"This should be made into a movie!"--Katia Lund, Co-director of "City of God

"Carolyn Nordstrom destroys the categories through which we normally look at war. This is a major achievement. Her eyewitness reporting, when contrasted with the official histories later compiled of the same events, is a revelation. The amount of 'extra-state' activity surrounding any war is vast, and Nordstrom evokes and analyzes it so fully, so deftly, that no one who reads this book will look at war news quite the same way again. Meanwhile, the extra-state itself, typified by Al Qaeda, has begun to drive world politics and generate wars with terrifying success."--William Finnegan, author of "A Complicated War: The Harrowing of Mozambique

"A gripping account of what the author calls 'research into the shadows' -- the often dangerous world of the powerful and wealthy who inhabit global extra-governmental organizations. It is also about the dehumanizing effects of war and violence on the victims. Nordstrom says: 'It is the only,way I know how to write about war: being there.' This book provides a rare opportunity of 'being there' with a courageous and highly observant anthropologist. I recommend it highly."--Richard Goldstone, Former Chief Prosecutor of the International War Crimes Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda

"Carolyn Nordstrom, a pioneer in warzone ethnography, gives us an up-close view of the shadowy worlds of wartime economics. Money laundering, blood diamonds, gun running -- Nordstrom puts faces on each of these. Seeing the faces makes the moral dilemmas of war not simpler, but more realistic. This is an innovative and important book."--Cynthia Enloe, author of Maneuvers: TheInternational Politics of Militarizing Women's Lives

"Nordstrom is a compassionate scholar who simply and doggedly uses ethnography to follow the question. This approach takes Nordstrom from the spectacular violence of armed con


I had gotten a ride on an unexpected cargo flight to a province on a distant Mozambican battlefront. It was 1990, and the war was so serious at this time people were calling the country the killing fields of Africa. I had been trying to get to this location for weeks. It was a land of contradictions. It was considered a backwater by African standards: the place where people were sent when they really messed up either by breaking the law or running afoul of the government. Yet it had a strong frontier ethos and a set of vibrant cultures. The province had little governmental support, and perhaps because of this, strong cross-border extra-state linkages with larger regional networks. Given the unpredictabilities of the war, and the frequent attacks on trade routes, combined with the government's lack of interest in the region, you never knew if the markets would have three potatoes to feed an entire town, or be brimming with unusual items from a recent successful cross-border run. The only item in town that was in abundance—given its centrality to survival—was information.

Just arrived, I was walking down the street when a woman called across the street to me, “Are you the anthropologist or the public health person?” Long since past wondering how people got information that to me seemed inaccessible, I replied, “the anthropologist. ” “Well, ” she said, “I'm the town's only surgeon, but more importantly, a shipment of beer from the next country over has just arrived in town. Let's go. ” “Go where?” I asked. “For a beer. We haven't seen beer here in ages. Everyone will be going. We can talk there. ” She and I converged on the local bar—a simple cane and wood construction with a few plastic tables and benches, along with an assortment of the town's denizens. Over warm flat beer— some of the worst I have ever tasted—stories flowed around the table.

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