This book examines the role of media and culture in shaping contemporary conditions of violence. It argues that the collective pursuit and expression of our economic, sexual, social and political desires has catalyzed significant social transformations in human history.
Humans of the advanced world are the most violent beings of all times. This violence is evident in the conditions of perpetual warfare and the accumulation of the most powerful and destructive arsenal ever known to humankind. It is also evident in the devastating impact of advanced world economy and cultural practices which have led to ecological devastation and the current era of mass species extinction. —one of only six mass extinction events in planetary history and the only one caused by the actions of a single species, humans. This violence is manifest in our interpersonal relationships, and the ways in which we organize ourselves through hierarchical systems that ensure the wealth and privilege of some, against the penury and misery of others.In this new and highly original book, Jeff Lewis argues that violence is deeply inscribed in human culture, thinking and expressive systems (media). Lewis contends that violence is not an inescapable feature of an aggressive human nature. Rather, violence is laced through our desires and dispositions to communalism and expressive interaction. From the near extinction of all Homo sapiens, around 74,000 years ago, the invention of culture and media enabled humans to imagine and articulate particular choices and pleasures. Organized intergroup violence or warfare emerged through the exercise of these choices and their expression through larger and increasingly complex human societies. This agitation of amplified desire, hierarchical social organization and mediated knowledge systems has created a cultural volition of violent complexity which continues into the present.Media, Culture and Human Violence examines the current conditions of conflict and harm as an expression of our violent complexity.
Expertly guiding readers through difficult transdisciplinary terrain, Jeff Lewis illuminates the deep cultural roots of human violence in a deeply erudite and compassionate way. Most importantly, he leaves us with the hope for the possibility of those fundamental social transformations that are the necessary for the further evolution of our species. This book is essential reading in the age of the anthropocene! Manfred B. Steger, Professor of Global Politics, University of Hawai'i-Manoa
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Jeff Lewis is Professor of Media and Communication at RMIT University, Australia. He is co-director of the Human Security and Disasters Research Program in the Global Cities Institute and a former Fellow of the Centre for Civil Society, London School of Economics. He is the author of numerous journal articles on cultural transformation and crisis in publications including The Journal of Asian Studies, Media International Australia and Cultural Studies Review. His most recent books include Global Media Apocalypse: Pleasure, Violence and Cultural Imaginings of Doom (2013), Crisis in the Global Mediasphere: Desire, Displeasure and Cultural Transformation (2011) and Bali's Silent Crisis: Desire, Terror and Transition (2009). He has also published widely in newspapers and magazines in Australia and Indonesia and is a regular radio/TV commentator regarding violence, terrorism and the media.