Democracy in the face of terror – Thomas Hylland Erikson on the trial of Anders Behring Breivik

Thomas Hylland Erikson

Writing in Open Democracy, Thomas Hylland Erikson, the world renowned Norwegian anthropologist, comments on the trial of Anders Behring Breivik. He considers the issue of whether the media coverage has given too much space to Breivik:

Some still feel that it should not be broadcast at all. Breivik’s own statements are, incidentally, not broadcast at all, but are reproduced verbatim in some of the online newspapers. Yet, most of the trial can be viewed live on TV or on any computer. Not all are overly pleased with this. An opinion-poll published just before the beginning of the trial indicated that more than 60% of the population felt that he got too much attention from the media. The liberal daily Dagbladet has introduced, for the duration of the trial, a button on the masthead of its online edition. Press it, and you enter a Breivik-free zone. My suspicion is that few do. Although we all know that Breivik does not merit this massive prolonged attention, that his message is one of paranoid hatred, and that there is no doubt as to his guilt, there is a morbid fascination with the affair, coupled with a need to know as much as possible about it in order to be able to move on.

Erikson argues that the way the trial has been conducted is a testament to the strength of Norway’s democracy and the only way to respond to terrorism and totalitarianism:

Democracy does not recommend a particular political position. It is about form rather than content. It presupposes mutual recognition and the acceptance of divergences of opinion, of the right to be heard, of the obligation to listen to others, and of respect for common norms of decency. The calm and reasoned way in which the Norwegian judiciary, the audience in the courtroom and indeed the population at large deal with Breivik, allowing him to be heard and asking him to listen, should be viewed in this light. It does not imply that Norwegians lack passion or that anger and vengefulness are absent during the trial. What it says is that our values are fundamentally different from his.

Visit Open Democracy to read the article in full.

Small Places, Large Issues – Third Edition

An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology

Thomas Hylland Eriksen

New edition of the classic introduction to anthropology, focusing on central topics such as kinship, ethnicity, ritual and political systems.

“This book fills a gap in the market and fills it in an exemplary fashion.” – Journal of Area Studies

£18.99 only £17.00 on the Pluto site

Ethnicity and Nationalism – Third Edition

Anthropological Perspectives

Thomas Hylland Eriksen

New edition of this core text for all students of social anthropology. Additions include cultural property rights and commercialisation of identity.

“As a introduction to the study of ethnicity, [this] book will do excellently.” – Ethnologia Scandinavica

“This is a delightful book. The volume is well structured and written in clear and accessible language; it will not be at all surprising if it becomes a major teaching aid and textbook in the field. My students found Eriksen’s book to be stimulating and thought provoking. It generates lively debates on key aspects of the study of nationalism, and it must, therefore, find its way to the desks and shelves of anyone interested in this topic.” – Ephraim Nimni, School of Political Science, University of New South Wales

£17.99 only £16.00 on the Pluto site

A Suitable Enemy

Racism, Migration and Islamophobia in Europe

Liz Fekete. Foreword by A. Sivanandan

Fekete exposes a new kind of institutionalised racism behind the inhuman migration and security policies of the EU.

“Liz Fekete is one of the best analysts of the complexities of racism in Europe today. In showing how racism has been profoundly impacted by Islamophobia, the War on Terror, and by a ‘xeno-racism’ directed at undocumented migrants and asylum seekers, A Suitable Enemy is the major work we’ve been waiting for. An enormously accomplished and important book” – Professor Avery Gordon, Department of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara

“A Suitable Enemy shows how the extreme right captured the political initiative by portraying immigrants and asylum seekers as a threat to European security, identity and prosperity … Liz Fekete presents an important analysis that should be used by anyone concerned about the real threats to human rights and democracy today.” – Professor Stephen Castles International Migration Institute, University of Oxford

£17.99 only £16.00 on the Pluto site

Racism and Anti-Racism in Europe

Alana Lentin

A comparative political sociology of anti-racism in Europe, showing the various discourses within this movement

“By all standards, this is a remarkable book. It is a major contribution to our understanding and handling of one of the crucial contemporary issues that acquires more import and gravity by the day.” – Zygmunt Bauman

“An excellent book, which enriches the tradition of political sociology conceptually, methodologically and substantively.” – Professor Peter Wagner, European University Institute, Florence

£19.99 only £17.50 on the Pluto site

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