mattias malk


(i) in Woolwich

This is the second part of a year-long study of Woolwich. The first, entitled 'Noise of men' can be seen as the 'War' section, and this is the 'Peace' part.

Although the project started as a study of militant particularism, as discussed by Raymond Wil­liams and David Harvey, attempting to identify the motivation for the act of violence that killed Lee Rigby, I soon realised, that there are many layers of (hi-)stories and development, that inform this 'event of place'.

In structuring the project, I have borrowed the title, but also some of the methodologies from Lev Tolstoy and his 'War and Peace'. In researching his landmark novel, he read as many official histories of the French-Russian war, he could find. In addition to the official account in both languages, he also read personal biographies as well as interviewed people, who had been part of the conflict, himself. As a result, the final body is an accurate ethnography fictionalised – an aware critique of official history. Through his inclusion of multiple sources, he aims to get closer to the 'truth', but also realises that fiction remains an inseparable part of representation. 

Particularly helpful in defining these sets of issues in terms of social study was Austrian philosopher and Roman Catholic priest Ivan Illich. He states, that the 'ability to divide social reality into two realms [is] the very essence of formal religion'. He goes on to point out, that there are religions without the supernatural or gods, but 'none, which does not subdivide the world into things and times and persons, that are sacred and others that as a consequence are profane' (1971: 24).

This intersection of sacred and profane is what drives my interest in these structures and histories of Peace in Woolwich.

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