Book Chapter or Conference Paper Title

Conflict and Security

Document Type

Book Chapter

Book Title or Conference Proceedings Title

The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology


Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, London


Hillary Callan




Conflict and security, although related, imply different domains. Conflict has long been a preoccupation of anthropology. Underlying assumptions about how best to understand conflict have shifted over the years, but it is probably fair to say that anthropologists have been at the forefront of challenging accepted wisdom about meanings and practices associated with conflict since its earliest days. Security, on the other hand, is a more recent interest within anthropology. Security studies really grew as a distinct field of study in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. It has been dominated by international relations and political science, but anthropology has a long history of studying social institutions that form part of the security apparatus. In many respects, anthropology, although not primarily concerned with state institutions, is ideally suited to understand the interplays between economic, political, historical, and cultural forces shaping the experiences and structures of security and conflict.