Peace Studies and the analysis of power

Recently I have been trying to map the existing literature in Peace Studies (PS) dealing with power. While there is a lot written on power in Social Sciences in general, as well as in International Relations (IR), that is not necessarily the case in PS. I started my research having a look at the Journal of Peace Research, a key reference in the field. While the first editorial of the journal (1964) sets out the many ways in which Peace Research (PR) rejects basic assumptions that dominated IR at the time, there is nothing specific about power. Also, and interestingly, … Continue reading Peace Studies and the analysis of power

Grasping local perceptions in the analysis of peacebuilding

Dealing with subjective aspects in the analysis of peacebuilding has become increasingly important. The growth of ethnographic studies in peacebuilding, pushed by the ‘local turn’, has contributed to a profound rethinking of peacebuilding efficacy, highlighting the need for researchers to engage with the subjective aspects that compound local actions and reactions to internationally-led peace activities. Starting from the premise that peacebuilding is experiential (Millar, 2014) and that, in order to understand the ‘other’ it is crucial that a platform of communication is well established, in this post would like to explore a couple of challenges related to the process of … Continue reading Grasping local perceptions in the analysis of peacebuilding

Review of ‘An Ethnographic Approach to Peacebuilding’

Discussing subjective aspects of peace, violence and power is as fascinating as challenging. I recently finished reading a book from Gearoid Millar, An Ethnographic Approach to Peacebuilding. Understanding Local Experiences in Transitional States, which reminded me of many of the processes that I lived during my own fieldwork in Mozambique back in 2012/2013 and which, eventually, led me to dive into my current research, focusing on subjective aspects of peace. As I really enjoyed this book – and I definitely recommend it to anyone planning to go on fieldwork in peacebuilding settings (in fact, I wish it came out before … Continue reading Review of ‘An Ethnographic Approach to Peacebuilding’

Defining taboos of violence: who sets the threshold of legitimacy?

Following up on my previous post, I would like to discuss today the construction of taboos surrounding violence, or, in other words ‘why some forms of violence are regarded as ‘legitimate’ while others are portrayed as ‘illegitimate’?’ Just to make it clear, please note that I am not apologetic to any kind of violence. I would rather live in a violence-free world. But I don’t, so it seems important to open the question of how violence is classified and why. Let me start this reflection with a quick story. Back in 2012, while I was conducting a focus group in … Continue reading Defining taboos of violence: who sets the threshold of legitimacy?

Peacebuilding as a Response to War or Violence? Contradictions of a Field and Practical Implications

Peace has been traditionally understood in relation to its opposite. In International Relations this opposite has been described as ‘war’ or ‘violent conflict’. In Peace Studies and Research, following the work of Johan Galtung, peace has been discussed in opposition to violence more generally. In this case, whereas war is one expression of violence, violence is a broader concept that entails both a direct manifestation, where the subject of violence is clearly defined, as well as a structural aspect, where the ‘actor’ that exerts violence is not as visible, and yet its victims are. The analysis of peacebuilding has been … Continue reading Peacebuilding as a Response to War or Violence? Contradictions of a Field and Practical Implications

Book launch: Beyond Peacebuilding. The Challenges of Empowerment Promotion in Mozambique

It is with great pleasure that I announce that my book Beyond Peacebuilding. The Challenges of Empowerment Promotion in Mozambique is finally out. Please find a summary of the book below. The book is available for sale at Amazon and directly at Palgrave, including in electronic format. Note that at Palgrave you can also buy separate chapters. Book summary: The book uses the concept of empowerment as a means to understand peacebuilding in Mozambique. In order to do this, it first traces the different discourses on ‘empowerment’ and proposes an analytical framework based on multiple levels of analysis and a … Continue reading Book launch: Beyond Peacebuilding. The Challenges of Empowerment Promotion in Mozambique

Measuring Peace: the Everyday Peace Indicators Project

One of the challenges of measuring peace resides in the different narratives that underlie the very methodologies used to capture ‘peace’, including the selection of specific indicators. As much as global indicators aim to find a common pattern of variables in order to compare a large number of countries, they also tend to lose touch with the base, the ordinary people who are the subjects of peace. The Everyday Peace Indicators project was designed precisely with the intent to provide an alternative narrative regarding the state of peace in post-violent conflict societies. In the words of Mac Ginty and Firchow … Continue reading Measuring Peace: the Everyday Peace Indicators Project