Keeping the Peace
The Individual & the Collective - HNRS 2364

Instructor(s): Andrew Carey

Course Description

Conflicts occur in all societies large and small, and all societies have customs for resolving disputes and keeping the peace. This course combines Anthropology, Political Science, and Criminal Justice, to examine social control and conflict resolution in different societies around the world. We will explore how the members of different societies are organized politically, how they make decisions collectively, and how this affects how people deal with conflict. Through articles, literature, video, and film, we will discover how cultures and societies define different types of crimes and reveal what kinds of tools they use to resolve conflicts.  This will involve exploring transgressions from the use of foul language in an inappropriate context to the most serious crimes of murder, apartheid, and even genocide. We will explore the variety of tools people employ to resolve conflicts, from the ritual apology of giving flowers after a romantic tiff to the ultimate resolution of banishment and the death penalty. The class will discuss the difference between punitive and restorative justice, and we will also delve into the consequences of conflicts that go unresolved.  

Finally, we will explore when societies resort to personal contests to resolve differences. From the song duels of the Inuit, medieval trial by combat, sword duels in Europe and Japan, to gun fights in the old west, personal combat has often been used as a method of resolving disputes. We will analyze when and how such personal contests are used to settle differences between individuals and why such personal contests are no longer used to resolve differences in American society today. The instructor is a registered fencing coach with the United States Fencing Association and students in the class will learn the basics of fencing and will be able to fight mock sword duels at the end of the class.  


Christopher Boehm, Equality and it causes (excerpt from Hierarchy in the Forest) 

Holly Peters Golden, Azande Witchcraft and Oracles in Africa 

Pamela Barsh, Blood Feud and State Control 

Mark Twain, The Great French Duel 

Eckett & Newmark, Central Eskimo Song Duels   

Kimberley Brownlee, Retributive, Restorative, and Ritualistic Justice,  

Shad Maruna, Re-entry as Rite of Passage 

Njal’s Saga (excerpts) 

George Grinnell, The Cheyenne Indians (excerpt) 

James Gibbs, The Kpelle Moot: A therapeutic model for informal settlement of disputes 

Song Fa Xiaxian, “Who will find the defendant if he stays with his sheep?” Justice in Rural China 

Heather Timmons and Sruthi Gottipati “Rape incites women to fight culture in India 

Esther Macner, What Powers, if any, are assigned to Rabbinic Courts in American Civil Law? 

Janine Clark, Transitional Justice, Truth and Reconciliation: an Under-Explored Relationship 

Thomas Hauschildt, Gacaca courts and Restorative Justice in Rwanda 



Frontline: Ghosts of Rwanda 

The Axe Fight 

Behind the Sun (Brazil) 

The Cows of Dolo Ken Paye (Liberia) 


Students will read and discuss the articles and films presented in class each week.  Each student will read and review three articles over the course of the semester and complete a research project.  For each article, they will write a two page paper describing how that culture's customs work for those people compared to how their families customs work for them. 

The project involves doing library research, summarizing the data collected, and presenting the results in a class presentation, and a final essay and necessary attachments.  Your project will involve three components.  Component #1 is student research this will involve three assignments: 1) Library assignment, 2) List of 4 possible sources, 3) 2 page review of one source.  Component #2 will be your final presentation. Component #3 will be your final essay.  Grading on the final paper is based on content, format and style.  

About the Instructor(s): Andrew Carey

Dr. Carey is a Lecturer at UNM-Valencia and a registered fencing coach in the U.S. Fencing Association.  He teaches courses in all fields of Anthropology.  He earned his Masters degree with a focus on cultural anthropology from the University of Nevada, Reno studying tribal policing in Nevada. He earned his Doctorate degree from the University of New Mexico with his study of the concept of tribal sovereignty in the United States.  He is very interested in the relations between national governments and indigenous peoples in the United States and around the world.