Conflict and violence at the local level: a world-system perspective Sabine Schmidt Völkerkundliches Institut, Universität Tübingen, Schloß, D-7400 Tübingen, Deutschland Abstract. World-system theory has become the major paradigm for evaluating the influence of global eco- nomic and political linkages on preindustrial societies. The position within one of the zones of the world- system is assumed to explain internal phenomena of these societies. While this should apply to the expla- nation of warfare as well, it is shown in this article, that variations in patterns of warfare are not explained by world-system position, this being too course of a grid. Rather the interaction of particular external in- fluences, as for example the introduction of cash crop economy, with internal features, such as the specific subsistence strategies found in a society, jointly influence patterns of conflict and violence. Introduction In this article! I explore the possibilities of applying a world system perspective for the explanation of conflict and violent conflict management in small-scale preindustrial societies. Anthropologists are increasingly challenging the view of the small-scale prein- dustrial societies as being static and without a history of their own. Recent reviews by Nash (1981) and Vincent (1986) give evidence of the growing concern with the embed- dedness of local communities within larger political and economic networks. Eric Wolf reminds us of the fact, that anthropology itself is the offspring of European and American encounter with the *supposed bearers of a pristine past" Wolf (1982: 18) and calls for an integration of ethnohistorical findings about the interrelationships *at Work in separate cases" (19) within a larger theoretical framework, which in turn will change the perspective in empirical studies as well. This has first been done in peasant studies of the 1950°s, acknowledging the link of peasant villages to wider economic and political networks. It is reflected by Redfield’s terminology of the “great” and “little traditions”, implying the existence of a world beyond the local community which does have an influence on the life of the peasants and consequently needs to be understood by anthropologists (Roseberry 1989: 109). In the 70's a new paradigm was introduced EEE Fa ! Preliminary versions of this paper were presented at a conference sponsored by the DFG “Theory con- Struction and comparative research on violent conflict in Third World Countries: Nomothetic explanations versus ideographic descriptions”, Bonn 1989 and at the annual meeting of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research, Claremont 1990. I wish to thank Jutta Daszenies, Klaus Krajewski and Rafael Wittek for their helpful comments and criticism. Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 115 (1990) 13-22 © 1992 Dietrich Reimer Verlag