Worldwide, guns are a topic wrought with emotions. While most democratic countries consider guns in private hands a severe risk for public health if uncontrolled, it is not just in the US that licencing laws face resistance that benefit from a political and emotional rejection of state interference (e.g. UKIP’s Nigel Farage earlier this year). But why and how are ‘gun cultures’ built and sometimes sustained, even if they might undermine, an EU-led, much-desired democratisation and peace-building process after violence and war?
Dr Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers, social anthropologist at the HSC, addressed this question in her presentation ‘Guns, Pride and Agency—Albanian Ideals of Militancy Before and After the 1999 War in Kosovo’, at the international conference Comparing Civil Gun Cultures: Do Emotions Make the Difference? at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin from August 26 to 28, 2014 (https://www.mpib-berlin.mpg.de/en/research/history-of-emotions/conferences/comparing-civil-gun-cultures-do-emotions-make-the-difference). The wider ethnographic research project, on which her findings are based, was also subject of an interview earlier this year, published on a research blog of the London School of Economics: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/lsee/2014/04/03/ilegalja-terrorists-or-freedom-fighters-an-albanian-tale-from-yugoslav-times/ .
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen