What is the relevance of Peace and Conflict Studies today? Is it helpful for understanding “nonviolent action” and the contemporary growth of unarmed protest movements?
In a time in the world when we are seeing record growth of unarmed popular protest movements, and an expansion of the academic field of studies on “nonviolent action”, what role does the established field of Peace and Conflict Studies play? Is it relevant at all? Can it become relevant (again)? If it is to be relevant, what kind of changes within the discipline are needed? These are some of the questions that we are interested in exploring through the 2021 special issue of the Journal of Resistance Studies. We are making a call for abstracts with the deadline of Jan 10 2021 (see info below).
The Journal of Resistance Studies focuses on understanding all forms and aspects of unarmed resistance, and has emerged as an academic journal out of discussions among peace studies scholars frustrated with developments within the academic discipline of Peace and Conflict Studies. The academic research on Peace and Conflicts has its heritage in the 1960s with assessments of Mohandas K. Gandhi, the anticolonial liberation movement in India, and nonviolent action and peace and environmental movements. However, during the 1980s and onwards, when Peace and Conflict Studies became more common at universities around the world, it became mainstreamed and entered the Cold War thematic over the years.
It took on the role of a critique of militarism, the arms race, militarized security and post-war conflict resolution, developing models and theories about mediation, negotiations and reconciliation. All of these are important contributions. Nevertheless, this meant adopting a more conventional view of social science, while marginalizing some of the more radical concepts and perspectives of peace, activism, justice and social change.
As we have seen over the years, particularly in the critique of the “liberal peace paradigm” (Richmond, Mac Ginty, et al), and the growth of interest in “nonviolent action” (Chenoweth and Stephan 2011, et al), alongside the strong emergence of unarmed protests movements in recent decades (e.g. the so-called “Arab Spring”, Occupy, the wave of 2019, the Climate Justice Movement, etc.), there seems to be a need for new and more radical theoretical frameworks that help us to understand these movements. International relations have marginalized the pacifist perspectives in favor of more liberal and realistic approaches, while revolution studies have historically relied on a more state-oriented approach with a special interest for armed insurgencies, while the strong field of social movement studies offers very little understanding of nonviolent action strategies.
In summary, it seems like we are presently in a situation where there is a need for new concepts, theories and frameworks, and a rethinking of our research and knowledge. If we want to be relevant to contemporary international relations and movements, facilitating social change towards a more peaceful and just world, academic reorientation seems necessary. But in what way, and how?
We are calling for papers that deal with, for example, the following topics:
- What is the role of “resistance” in creating “peace” and resolving “conflicts”?
- How does peace and conflict studies account for relations of domination in conflicts?
- In what way are the contemporary protests movements articulations of “nonviolent action”, and what could they learn from previous struggles within the nonviolent tradition?
- How has ‘critical peace theory’ developed, particularly since the end of the Cold War, and what is its relationship to the field of resistance studies?
- Emerging areas of research that cross the peace and conflict as well as resistance fields, with relevance to international relations, for example ‘social defence’.
- What can resistance movements learn from our understanding of conflict dynamics? (escalation, resolution, continuation)
It is advisable to read our Policy Statement to increase your possibility for being selected for publication.
Send abstracts to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 10 2021
Selected submissions are expected to deliver full texts by March 15 2021