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May 4, 2021

Interviewer: RAFAEL KHACHATURIAN. Recent movements to reform society and address interpersonal behavior have placed eliminating violence at their center. As political theorist MATT SHAFER points out, however, the concept of “violence” has never had a stable meaning. In his discussion with Rafael Khachaturian, he describes how it has increasingly been torn between the competing poles of the social and the personal. He traces how these conceptions of violence arose beginning in the 1960s – superseding a prior understanding of violence as unsanctioned forcse – and are themselves inadequate to address the age of information and social media. Shafer has been a 2020-21 Mitchell Center Postdoctoral Fellow, during our Free Speech Battles theme year, and will continue his research at the Institute for Advanced Study.