Kieran Mitton

in Rebels in a Rotten State

Published in print October 2015 | ISBN: 9780190241582
Published online January 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780190492199 | DOI:

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This chapter looks beyond the rational-actor framework for explanations of atrocity, beginning with an analysis of shame and the associated work of David Keen. The role that humiliation and shame played in motivating and shaping violence in Sierra Leone, and the roots of these factors, are examined with reference to original testimony from perpetrators of violence, and placed within the context of findings from the behavioural sciences. The chapter concludes that shame and humiliation are useful for better understanding many specific forms of atrocity, but cannot be used to fully explain those instances of violence in which dehumanization, the emotion of disgust, or the apparent enjoyment of cruelty and violence played a role.

Keywords: Sierra Leone; violence; atrocity; shame; humiliation; David Keen; cognitive dissonance; cruelty

Chapter.  28336 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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