Making Enemies
Humiliation and International Conflict
by Evelin Lindner
June 2006, 248pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-275-99109-8
$55, £41, 46€, A79
eBook Available: 978-0-313-08182-8
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A social scientist, the founder of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies anchored at Columbia University, describes how the dynamics of humiliation—intentional and unwitting—are central to large- and small-scale conflicts around the globe and internationally.

When the statue of Saddam Hussein fell and Iraqis danced on the body, hitting it with their shoes, there was joy. Moments later, when an American soldier climbed the statue to place an American flag on the face, there was a national gasp, a moment of humiliation for the Iraqis. Americans had claimed to be liberating them, but the placing of the American flag was a sign of conquest. The flag was quickly removed and replaced with an Iraqi flag, but those tense moments were a brief example of the power and potentially far-reaching, volatile effects of humiliating acts, even when unintentional. In this fascinating work, Dr. Linder examines and explains, across history and nations, how this little-understood, often-overlooked emotion sparks outrage, uprisings, conflict and war.

With the insights of a seasoned psychologist and peace scholar, the analytical skill of a linguist who speaks seven languages, and the scholarship of a Columbia University professor, Lindner explains which words and actions can humiliate, how the victim perceives those words and actions, what the consequences have been, and how individuals and organizations can work to avoid instances in the future. From acts of humiliation in Nazi Germany to intentional humiliations such as those at Abu Graib, from events during the bloodbaths in Rwanda and Somalia, to precursors to the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York, Lindner offers vivid examples to explain how humiliation can be at the core of international conflict.


CHOICE 2007 Outstanding Academic Title, January 1, 2006


"This volume is a path-breaking work that skillfully explores the deeper intricacies between war and peacemaking from a social psychological lens. Lindner cogently argues that there is a strong relationship between humiliation and international conflict. She defines humiliation as enforced lowering of a person or group, a process of subjugation that damages or strips away pride, honor or dignity. The analysis focuses on the humiliating effects of words and actions, and those related to incidents of violent conflicts. Specific incidents of humiliation discussed include the humiliation of the Hutu by a dominant Tutsi minority, which resulted in the 1994 Rwandan genocide; Germany's humiliating defeat in WW I made worse by the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles; and the placing of an American flag on a statue of Saddam Hussein after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. In particular, the author concludes her very original work by arguing that in order to avoid the destructive effects of humiliation, it would be necessary to marry globalization with egalization--equal dignity. The implication is that globalization, in its current form, is humiliating to many in the world. Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above."—Choice, March 1, 2007

"[T]he objections that one may raise to particular propositions in a book that addresses the wide range of individual and social conflicts should not deflect us from recognizing the substantial contributions this volume makes to the resolution of human conflicts. As Lindner has demonstrated, humiliation, patently and subtly, is a common and destructive component in interactions between individuals or groups in conflict situations. It is an element that not only should but can be eliminated in social interaction."—PsycCRITIQUES, August 15, 2007

"The frequency of references to the consequences of humiliation, often accumulated over generations, in contemporary international conflict makes Lindner's topic an important and potentially fruitful one. Moreover, it is one that economics-mimicking approaches to international relations are likely to miss and is, accordingly, best served by approaches able to draw on psychology. Lindner is a social psychologist of considerable erudition, with deep knowledge of different cultures and fieldwork experience in many areas of conflict, particularly in Africa. She moves effortlessly between considerations of personal experiences of humiliation, many of them poignant, and their potential structural causes."—Foreign Affairs, April 1, 2007

"This is a social psychological investigation of the role of humiliation in human conflict. Lindner first lays out a theory of the mental and social dynamics humiliation and proposes the need for egalization (the undoing of humiliation) for a healthy global society. She then presents chapters on the role of misunderstandings in fostering feelings of humiliation; the role of humiliation in international conflict; and the relationship of humiliation to terrorism and torture. She concludes with a discussion of how to defuse feelings of humiliation."—Reference & Research Book News, November 1, 2006
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