Structural violence is defined as violence that results from the way that a population’s many suffering individuals are made more vulnerable by political and economic pressures. In particular, infectious or parasitic disorders cause the majority of the misery. However, other factors that contribute to structural violence include rape, torture, and famine. In addition, it exposes the weakest and most vulnerable members of society to significant hazards despite all forms of social misery (Sanford and Asale 2006). Due to this, medical anthropologists primarily concentrate on the “biology of poverty,” which aims to provide an explanation for the syndemics associated with structural violence. Hence, they create a correlation between the physical, emotional, and mental suffering to political and socio-economic inequality.
A good example of structural violence is when governments use the military in the hope that it will bring democracy. However, the peasants who form a huge percentage of the society realize that military action yields a minimal difference to dictatorship. Therefore, they remain to be subjects of structural violence while still in the hands of violence. In particular, looking at the win by Father Jean-Bertrand Aristotle in 1990, it is evident that his ousting in 1991 was because of a military coup precipitated by structural violence (Sanford and Asale 2006).
On the other hand, regarding traumatic violence, the focus is mainly on the events which are external and out of the control of an individual. Hence, the aftermath yields a war or an armed conflict. Additionally, different forms of violent disruptions can lead to trauma which in one way or the other is a human suffering. According to Gaur and Patniak, there is a significant difference associated with trauma caused by resettlement and a rite of passage (Schultz and Robert 2005). When giving a closer look at relocation, those affected are subject to morbidity, despair, and distress among other things. There is an effect on their economic livelihood and other foundations of communal living. When compared to a rite of passage, this is not the case.
Traumatic violence, therefore, makes individuals work so hard while being vulnerable to things like illness. Hence, they end up in a state where they are not healthy. Gaur and Patniak go ahead to explain traumatic violence while referring to the Koreans working in India (Schultz and Robert 2005). They come up with the term “experiential health” which is a condition that is disease free. However, these Koreans in India working in a new place perceive that their actual home is not in any way associated with the new living area surrounding them. Therefore, they are in a similar condition as those people who are displaced which are a way in which traumatic violence manifests itself.
Sanford, Victoria, and Angel-Ajani Asale. 2006. Engaged Observer: Anthropology, Advocacy And Activism. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
Schultz, Emily, and Lavanda Robert. 2005. Cultural Anthropology – A Perspective On The Human Condition. 7th ed. New York: Oxford University Press.