We were fortunate to welcome Professor Anthony Collins from La Trobe University to present an internal seminar on “Making a killing: corporate rationality, global inequality and collateral murder”.
Anthony’s presentation rethinks the mass murder of 346 people in two related incidents in the past year. It is part of a larger project exploring how we understand violence and the consequences of these conceptualisations. Despite the emergence of a compelling body of evidence showing exactly how these killings occurred, we can safely assume that none of those responsible for these horrific deaths will be prosecuted. One reason for this is that the deaths do not fit with how we commonly imagine homicide, criminality, or even human agency. Another is the networks of global power and inequality that divide the perpetrators and the victims. A third is the social cultures that shaped the thoughts and actions of those responsible, and how deeply these homicidal organisational practices are normalised in the political and economic values of the Western world. This case study thus leads us to reconceptualise the very idea of violence, and to argue that a social justice approach requires that we articulate a theory of violence that moves away from both common-sense and legalistic understandings, and towards a more critical understanding of harm. This in turn troubles the easy distinction between perpetrators and ordinary folks who are just busy living their lives, in a way that increasingly implicates us all in systems of violence.
As an African of colonial extraction, Anthony’s research and community engagement is primarily located in Southern Africa, where they work with organisations involved with violence prevention, and support for survivors of intimate and gendered violence. This interest has also included developing new courses on Violence, and Working with Survivors of Violence, in addition to teaching in more traditional areas such Victimology, Gender Studies and Qualitative Research Methods. Anthony is currently the co-ordinator of the Crime, Justice and Legal Studies Honours programme at La Trobe University, and honorary professor at Rhodes University and Durban University of Technology in South Africa.