Structural Violence: Understanding Invisible Forms of Suffering

Presented by Catherine Bolten

Violence is everywhere around us, but the most widespread, pervasive, and damaging forms of violence are rarely on the news, and this makes them much more difficult to define and address. Structural violence involves anything that damages a person's life chances and potential, which includes events such as eviction and environmental contamination, to long-standing hurdles such as an impenetrable bureaucracy that makes it impossible to obtain social services. Structural violence is difficult to address because no one person is to blame, and therefore it is easy to deflect and defer responsibility, which leads to more suffering. In this seminar, we will work on case studies including inner-city evictions and foreclosures, the Flint water crisis, and the depopulation of East St. Louis to examine how the most pervasive and damaging forms of inequality often escape notice, and almost always escape redress.

About Catherine Bolten

Catherine Bolten is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Peace Studies. Her work examines the intersection between structural and hot violence in Sierra Leone, and her first book, "I Did It To Save My Life: Love and Survival in Sierra Leone" was published with the University of California Press in 2012. Her current research examines the possibilities for new outbreaks of infectious disease due to rural overpopulation and deforestation in Sierra Leone.