Thirty years ago, modernization theory contended that notions of honor would become obsolete in modern democracies. Being an archaic remnant of our pre-modern past, honor would be substituted by dignity under modern conditions. When honor does emerge as a valid social theme in modern society, as it sometimes does during court hearings, in gang fights, and in violent reactions to insult, it is often ascribed to immigration from pre-modern cultures where honor still matters in social life. Thus honor becomes part of the cultural baggage that is transfered to the host country through migration. However, the fact that highly modern social formations like MC gangs are also obsessed with honor seriously questions the validity of classical modernization theories. It seems that honor is not just a pre-modern weed in a modern garden of dignity, but an integral part of modernity. Since honor emerges under pre-modern as well as under modern conditions, it is relevant to ask under which circumstances it becomes a theme in interaction. Blurring the distinction between the modern and the pre-modern in this manner allows us to ask what honor is really all about. Containing a wealth of international contributions from Scandinavia, USA, Mexico, Kurdistan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Japan, Tournaments of Power provides first-hand ethnographic accounts and important answers to these vital questions.
’This fine book of essays convincingly demonstrates that honour is not vanishing, as many experts have claimed, but thrives where state authority is minimal. Â The remarkably coherent articles cover a wide range of cases, ranging from the honour codes of Danish outlaw bikers to blood feuds in the mountains of the Hindu Kush; from differential violence among inner city school children in Oslo to narratives of revenge in the villages of Java. Â This is a book that any social scientist interested in the way power is asserted and legitimized ought to have; it is also a book that any ordinary reader will find extraordinarily fascinating.’ Charles Lindholm, University Professor of Anthropology, Boston University, USA
Contents: Introduction: Honor and revenge in the contemporary world, Tor Aase; The dynamics of honor in violence and cultural change: a case from an Oslo inner city district, Inger-Lise Lien; Honor and revenge in the culture of outlaw Danish bikers, Joi Bay; Violence without honor in the American South, Roy DÂ´Andrade; The prototypical blood feud: Tangir in the Hindu Kush mountains, Tor Aase; Honor, feuding, and national fragmentation in Kurdistan, Haci Akman; Kampung revenge: crime, state and neighbourhood retaliation in Java, Eldar Braten; Hatred, revenge, sorcery: reflections on the personalization of violence in contemporary societies, Bruce Kapferer; The attraction of power: honor and politics in a Japanese village, Leif Selstad; A house that lacks a man, lacks respect, Marit Melhuus; Index.