Glenn Petersen: Pride and Grief in Times of War

Glenn Petersen: Pride and Grief in Times of War

We seem always preoccupied by war. Lately, it’s been Ukraine and Russia on the battlefield and Top Gun in the movie theaters. We debate why it is that people—mostly young men—go willingly off to kill and be killed. But the fact is that our world is much more characterized by activities that are peaceful. Drawing on my experience fighting in Vietnam, serving as a diplomat at the United Nations, and studying and teaching anthropology for half a century, I will explore what advertising copywriters speak of as “selling the sizzle and not the steak.” That is, why war and organized violence seem so much more prevalent than they actually are.

Glenn Petersen is a professor at CUNY’s Baruch College and the Graduate Center, where he’s been teaching anthropology, international affairs, and geography for fifty years. He’s a combat veteran of the Vietnam War; has spent many years doing ethnographic research in the Micronesian islands of the South Pacific and represented them at the United Nations after they achieved independence; and he recently published War and the Arc of Human Experience, a book on the anthropology of war.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

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