Throughout it is difficult to interrogate masculine practices

Throughout the extensive literature on conflict theory, there exists a
tendency to link masculinity or masculine practices to the outbreak of armed
violence. Scholars such as Hartsock (1989) and Barry (2011) propose that men
possess a natural capacity for brutality which inevitably results in armed
violence. Yet it is not justifiable to simply assume that armed violence is
solely rooted in masculine practices as this theory fails to acknowledge the
wider context in which conflict often unfolds. Other authors including
Hutchings (2008) provide a more nuanced explanation, highlighting that rather
than a causal link, the attributes and practices of masculinity provide a
framework for understanding armed violence. Understanding masculine practices
and ideals can provide insight into why men are motivated to become involved in
armed violence. However, it is difficult to interrogate masculine practices in
isolation as masculinity itself is intersected by other aspects of identity
including ethnicity and socio economic status which also influence men’s
actions. Thus, in attempting to understand how armed violence originates, it is
important to consider the interplay of these identities and their connection to
men’s motivations in situations of conflict. Moreover, while masculine
practices may provide a lens for exploring mobilization, they do not adequately
explain why conflict erupts in the first place. As Fogarty (2000) suggests,
every conflict has immediate causes and antecedent causes and thus we cannot
ignore the wider context in which most conflicts are rooted. Using Khan’s
(2010) ethnography of young male political mercenaries involved in the Karachi
conflict of 1984 to 2002, this essay will seek to illustrate the complex
interaction between masculine practices and other significant factors which
contributed to the rise of conflict. It will also examine the importance of
other identities, particularly ethnicity and socio economic background in
contributing to men’s mobilization.


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