Friday, May 4, 2012

Violence Part Of The Social Experience In Indus Civilization

Researchers Gwen Robbins Schug and Veena Mushrif Tripathy in an interview with Anthropology news have this to say about Harappan society:

It was argued that Harappa was a rare example of a peaceful, heterarchical state. The human skeletal material was never consulted to address this question. Based on our evidence for both exclusion and social differentiation in the mortuary practices at Harappa, we argue that Harappa was not entirely peaceful and social differentiation was part of life. We hope archaeologists working in this area will plan future excavations to include the peripheral areas outside the cities; excavation outside the city walls will tell us more about Indus society.

We are using the human skeletons as artifacts of the social experience. We used the concept of structural violence in our most recent work because it accounts for the clear distinctions we see in the burial practices, ritual aspects, prevalence of trauma and infection. The mortuary and bioarchaeological evidence at Harappa suggests that the social experience in South Asia was not exceptionally different from other early urban civilizations; the kinds of suffering and the patterns of violence present at Harappa suggests structural violence—unequal power, uneven access to resources, and oppression that leads to denial of basic needs and even violence.

Lest some people get too excited about the use of the words Harappa and violence in the same sentence, let it be made clear that this violence refers to interpersonal violence present in any complex society and not violence inflicted by outsiders during war.

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