Everyday Violence and the Colonial State
This introductory chapter provides a brief background on the power of everyday violence in the settler colony of German Southwest Africa (present-day Namibia) at the beginning of the twentieth century. It explores the “unspectacular” violent acts orchestrated by the police force of German Southwest Africa. Instead of being built primarily on formal, legal, and bureaucratic processes, the colonial state was produced by improvised, informal practices of violence. Contrary to most social theories of the state, the chapter argues that the organization of state power was not merely a matter of claiming the monopoly of force and thus proscribing any excessive, disruptive, and nonofficial violence. Rather, it reveals that colonial rule consisted in diffusing and regulating specific types of seemingly self-evident harm throughout society.
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