What makes young men willing to risk their lives by enrolling in violent organizations? How do these organizations persuade young men to do so? In the age of radicalization, these questions are central to most debates about politics and globalization. Through long-term ethnographic fieldwork in various conflict settings, this volume explores both the violent organizations that entice young people to engage in conflict and how these same young people answer the call. It takes the reader into the worlds of Maoists in Nepal; ex-combatants, mercenaries, religious ‘zealots’ and drug dealers in West Africa; violent student politics in Bangladesh; ethno-nationalist vigilante groups in Kenya; both sides of the war between LRA and the Ugandan state as well as gang-like fraternities in the Philippines. When researched in situ and in-depth, these mobilizations show themselves to be multiple, performative and temporary, just as people may show themselves to be more sporadically radical than ideologically locked down.
I know of no more empirically-grounded work in this field that touches upon, and discursively integrates, such a large number of issues while remaining lucid, accessible, and intellectually coherent. In locating arguments in, and drawing insights from, ethnographically researched situations, this volume makes a compelling case for anthropology’s relevance to resolving critical issues in today’s vexed socio-political environment.