Mapping Human Violence
 Seminar at the Piet Zwart Institute Rotterdam January - April 2004; go to  Seminar Handbook
 Visual and Textual Quotations from 39 books and other forms of publications; go to Quotation Library
 Three categories: -human violence -mapping -visualizing.


manifesto for seminar

state - collective - individual

from mega-death to individual victims
collecting disparative data about reactions
horrified - rejoicing - ambivalent
making the incomparable understood
creating visual language tools
to sober our views
go beyond our fears

for what now-a-days is mashed together in one term
definitions of modern terrorism
vary greatly and misuse of the term seems to be implicit
to get this blurred vision into focus again
a non-national, universal historical perspective is needed
tell apart murder and massacre
distinguish between fountain-pen-criminal and suicide bomber
by making a chronological and statistical backdrop of
victimized people over centuries

There are many words for the killing and destruction of things of nature, of humans, and man made devices and dwellings. The Latin verb 'cadere/cidere' meaning to slain, hew or kill can be found in internationally used words that describe a circle of destructive acts with in the middle the target...

and ways of living

Homocide (killing of any man), suicide (killing of one self), patricide (... father), matricide (...mother), infanticide (the killing of children, often gender based like the killing of girls in classical Greece) filicide (the killing of one's own children, sometimes to spare them from starvation), fraticide (killing of one's brother, also used for inter-killing of members of nearby religions like christians and jews, and recently for soldiers falling under 'friendly fire'); old practices of the killing of brutal kings and tyrants (regicide and tyrannicide) or visionary prophets (vaticide)...
Suicide (self-sacrifice) and tyrannicide (the sacrifice of a tyran) are often combined as the assassinator mostly loses his or her life as a result of an attack. There is a fundamental difference between the murder of a powerful person (king, tyrant, dictator, high functionary, ruling class personality, political leader or prophet) and the murderous act of a suicide bomber who does not anymore distinguish between those directly responsible for an undesired rule, exploitation or oppression and those who are indirectly associated with it. The victims are not chosen because of their particular position in society, but because they happen to be part of what is seen by the attacker as the enemy group. They are nameles: people at a bus stop, tourists in a hotel, passengers of an airplane; those praying in a temple, working in a skyscraper, buying at a market, dancing in a disco.

Where is the dividing line between group-murder and mass-murder?

The usage of the term genocide (genos, Greek for race or tribe) dates back not more than six decades (coined in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew, a lawyer, specialized in international law who managed to escape the Holocaust), it formed the basis for an international convention (United Nations 1946/1948) to prevent and punish intentional destruction of people because of their race, religion or ethnicity. With 'destruction' not just killing was meant but also other ways of destroying a nation, a religious or ethnic group (like forbidding of religious practices, the own language, political and cultural institutions and practices).

Later other terms were added to specify particular forms of destructive actions, like ethnocide (the attempts at erasing an ethical group or culture), urbanicide (the willingfull destruction of cities and its inhabitants) and ecocide (an attack on an ecological system, nature if you like, including the repercussions for people living in such areas or suffering long range effects).
Our forebears, where-ever on earth, were certainly not less capable of mass murder, mass deportation, enslavement and destruction of ethnic identity,... one should take in consideration not only the many crimes wrought by 'Western' colonial powers in the last half millenneum, but also misdeeds of Non-European societies some dating back much further, others a few centuries ago. Violence was package and deal of many societies on which we now often bestow the honorary term 'Great Civilization', be they Chinese, Mongol (Asia), Assyrian or Persian (Middle East), Zulu (southern Africa), Aztek (Meso-America), Inca (South America) or Kwaki-utl indians (north-west America).
There seem to be enough internationaly understood words to describe human forms of mass violence. Such a common understanding is needed to make international legislationthat prevents and bans such acts.
The word
is on the lips of all leaders of the nations of the world and almost all nations have signed treaties about the safeguard of 'human rights' and the refusal of 'genocide'. But in practice definitions vary and states tend to deny that they themselves are, or ever were, involved in such mass atrocities. If it is about the Gulag, mass deportations and man made famines of the Soviet Union, or the fire storms and carpet bombings the British and Americans blasted over German and Japanese cities or the more recent Cold War horrors received by the citizens of Korea and Indo-China, in all these cases application of the word 'genocide' has been refused by the governments involved.

This evasion of responsibility by several nations, their denial of having committed crimes against humanity, have led some to create more precize defintions and new words to describe acts of mass violence. One such word is 'democide' by the American political scientist R. J. Rummel. His simplest definition is 'the intentional killing by a government of unarmed persons and people'. Rummel has devoted many years to statistical studies of victims of violence through the whole of human history. His term includes the act of 'genocide' but it is wider because reasons for mass killing other than ethnicity or nationality are taken in consideration. Rummel's term 'democide' is contraversial in the realm of goverments and associated institutions because he tend to include includes 'war deaths' in his definition. A nearby term is 'politicide' the killing of people because of their political opinions or for political reasons, sometimes used for the killings in the Soviet Union under Stalin or in China under Mao. Such new definitions, if made into international law, would bring many states and their leaders in the bench of the accused. So they are far from being accepted by the United Nations, but nevertheless they do carry a moral value and they do point at the double standards and morals of political leaders when they address the issue of ...

The big crimes of state initiated violence do not lessen the horrors inflicted by individual acts of violence, though we sometimes can not escape to compare the destruction wrought by long distance computer guided systems with the desperate deed of a suicide bomber. For the victims and those mourning their death such differences do not realy matter.
For those who think that means and ends are inseperately linked there is hardly any apology for the use of terror to put an end to suffering and oppression, but those who think differently have plenty of bad examples of states and statesmen that resolve conflicts through the excesive use of violence.

When action and reaction are of the same moral order a 'just cause' will be turned into it's opposite.

What is the meaning of the word


when it explodes in your face

The word terror comes from the Sanskrit word for 'trembling' and 'terrorism' is a system of violent acts with the aim to let us tremble, to induce fear. We tend to flee from what we fear, but sometimes fleeing is not an option anymore and we have to face what we dread most. We may discover that war and terrorism are breeding each other and we may be forced to sacrifice our 'just cause', we may choose to compromise, take risks, try to become honourable loosers.

When we want to find our way out of the spiraling labyrinth of terrorism we must make our self a guide, we need to make
Maps are representations that facilitate a spatial understanding of things, concepts, conditions, processes or events in the human world. The representation techniques used can vary from graphic arts and spatial models to poetry, songs and dance. Maps not just reproduce geophysical realities, but can also transmit the shape of sacred space and the realms of fantasy and myth as explored by the inward eye.