13 May 2007

bringing the O back in (+ update)

ryan wrote to me, suggesting that i may have been too focused on the "conflict and violence" part of "order, conflict and violence" as i constructed my initial plea below. this is a common complaint from those among us who are interested in the less-disquieting aspects of relationships between states, potential states, and folks on the ground.

so. before launching into a somewhat epic description of songs i'm'n'a include in my little mix (and their theoretical significance), a brief pause to ask: please, send us some songs about state formation. or the maintenance of order, or what have you.

suggestions so far: "up the wolves" (mountain goats) references the mythology behind the founding of rome; "wait a minute mr. postman" (marvelettes) clearly speaks to an important aspect of american state formation and development. and then there's this, which i shall quote from the email in its entirety: "FOR ORDER PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE INCLUDE WE BUILT THIS CITY ON ROCK AND ROLL BY JEFFERSON STARSHIP."

which, yes, of course. how could we not?

without further ado, friends, the OCV mixtape (as it currently stands; i'm still thinking about how to sequence the songs):

"Goodnight Saigon," Billy Joel (Abbey): recruitment, socialization/traumatization, reintegration issues
"Knuckles," The Hold Steady (Amelia): state weakness and paramilitary organizations in the american midwest, "kevlar vests against the crystal flakes"
"Fuck tha Police," NWA/Rage Against the Machine (Laurel): grievance.
"Shankill Butchers"/"Culling of the Fold," The Decemberists (Amelia): The Troubles; targeted versus indiscriminate violence against civilians.
"Diamonds from Sierra Leone," Kanye West (Amelia): greed.
"Pull up the People," M.I.A. (Laurel): grievance.
"War," Outcast (Anonymous): proxy wars, violence against civilians.
"Born in the USA," Bruce Springsteen (Anonymous): dynamics of recruitment (esp. class)
"Fortunate Son," CCR (Amelia): dynamics of recruitment (esp. class)
"Sunday Bloody Sunday," U2 (Abbey): 'cause, duh.
"Bombs over Baghdad," Outkast (Ryan): duh again.
"Spanish Bombs," The Clash (Ryan): Spanish civil war, "i think."
"Hit 'Em Up," 2Pac (Ryan): "this is the song all about the various ways he wants to kill biggie and extends the vendetta to bad boy records 'as a staff, record label, and a motherfucking crew. if you're down with bad boy fuck you too' -- alliance, endogeneity of cleavages to conflict, brutalization.
"The Hook," Stephen Malkmus (Ryan): Pirates!

in other news, it's been a crazy few weeks here at House of Data, Lots of Data, Data That You Need or Else You Will Be Wrong. first, we went to boston to present our paper at a conference. as is typical with conferences, it was a mix-and-match experience. without being overspecific, i think it's fair to say that social science ph.d. training inculcates habits of mind that are (a) useful and (b) limiting. we are -- as meg and i pointed out -- pretty obsessed with identification, with causal modeling, and that's for good reason.

on the other hand, it does seem as if many semesters of "how to criticize a causal theory" may have blunted our ability to reason on our feet about other sorts of inferential problems. meg and i were speaking about measurement and how it might affect inference, and it seemed that there was general, passive agreement. but no one knew how to have a conversation about it. very odd. on the whole, however, it was a great time. lots of very smart people with very interesting ideas, in different stages of development. i may be speaking too soon, but i think that my particular interest in armed group structures might be group-ifying.

then i saw friends! lots of friends! and had numerous important conversations. compared to the pre-conference era, i am up a lot of Life Insight and one dissertation committee member. i am also, and this was the genesis of the previous post, increasingly unsure about precisely what my long-term plans are. there's no question about finishing; there's just the nagging issue of precisely in what manner.

however. we can forget all-or-most of that for the moment. things in berkeley are beautiful as usual. i got a minor and somehow affirming sunburn this morning, eating thai brunch on the library lawn with emily, meg and a parade of people-watching gold.