Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
War, Anthropology of
Keith F. Otterbein
War is armed combat (fighting with weapons) between warriors or soldiers from two different political communities. This definition puts emphasis on learning to use weapons because learning to use weapons is socialization for armed combat. Warfare by definition is differentiated from other forms of killing—those that occur within political communities; these are, namely, homicide, political assassination (unless it is the leader of another polity), feuding, capital punishment, dueling, and human sacrifice. The study of war should focus upon pairs of political communities or pairs of alliances (of course, a single political community could be at war with an alliance). The warfare that occurs over a period of time between two rival entities (political communities or alliances) constitutes a “warfare system.” An intergroup relations approach is useful in analyzing warfare systems: how relationships between polities influence relationships within polities and how these in turn influence relationships between polities. Each warfare system ...