Book review: John Braithwaite and Bina D’Costa. Cascades of Violence: War, Crime and Peacebuilding across South Asia

Date01 June 2019
DOI10.1177/2321023019838733
Published date01 June 2019
/tmp/tmp-17Ug0glmARHL5d/input 92

Book Reviews
John Braithwaite and Bina D’Costa. Cascades of Violence: War, Crime and Peacebuilding across South Asia.
Acton: ANU Press. 2018. 683 pages.
DOI: 10.1177/2321023019838733
This book is a harmonious synthesis of an intensive and exhaustive endeavour to understand violence in
South Asia. It does so through a lens that challenges the mainstream understanding of conflicts in gen-
eral, and in South Asia in particular, with the aim of suggesting more effective peacebuilding. It is a part
of an ambitious project undertaken by the authors called Peacebuilding Compared (2004–2030) and is
the result of extensive fieldwork and data collection done over a period of 13 years. The book is the
compilation of the work in progress until 2017, subject to further testing.
The work situates the conflicts in South Asia in the broader frame of cascading character of global
violence, with the concept of ‘cascades’ defined as ‘ever-changing dynamics that have time as well as
spatial dynamics, and many other dimensions’ (p. 24). The methodology employed is inductive, through
discussion of cases leading to causal process tracing research that demonstrates causality of the spillover
of violence. The cascade analysis rests on an ‘inter-scalar’ lens navigating from the micro to the macro
and vice versa to explore linkages. The authors’ overarching premises about cascades analysis are that it
explains violence with greater clarity, highlights preventability and is equally instrumental in explaining
most of the concepts discussed, namely non-violence, ‘hotspots’, anomie, ‘bodies’ (i.e., refugees) and
social movements.
The inter-scalar case-analyses, revealing recurring patterns of cascades, challenge the idea of sover-
eignty in context of the region through identifying structures of domination that transcend and permeate
the state. The authors juxtapose their multifocal analyses against the Westphalian state-bound rationale
of realist theory in...

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