Conference: The Constitution of Peace. Current Debates and Future Perspectives, Marburg (Germany) 11-13 October 2012

The Constitution of Peace.
Current Debates and Future Perspectives.

Zentrumstage 11-13 October 2012

It has become a commonplace in academic scholarship to regard peace as an ontologically suspicious concept, as troubling in its own way as war, to use Jean Bethke Elshtain’s words. It is thus surprising that despite recent scholarship the term still remains largely under-studied and under-theorised. If we follow contemporary criticism regarding the prevailing conceptualisation of peace—that it is firmly embedded in liberal thought, for example—the question arises whether it is possible to consider alternative ways of thinking peace. Moreover, since practises of building peace have come under severe criticism from both an empirical and a conceptual perspective, it is time to consider new approaches. The conference seeks to push the debate forward by proposing and discussing alternative ways of understanding peace. This may take conceptual and/or empirical forms.

The objective of the conference is therefore twofold:

First, it seeks to review current criticism of the prevailing conceptionalisation of peace and to envisage alternative forms which respond to these critiques. Inter alia, the conference seeks to analyse the liberal peace paradigm from various perspectives including post-structuralism, feminism and post-colonialism.

Second, from an empirical perspective, it aims at investigating current peace-building practises to highlight their strengths and weaknesses regarding the conceptualisation and implementation of peace (building) programmes, and the relationship between global peace-builders and local people affected by violence (and peace) among other perspectives.

The paper presented address the following questions and related issues:

  • How can peace be conceptualized differently? Can violence be transformed into forms of peace that go beyond the prevailing paradigm of liberal peace?
  • Do critical approaches such as post-structuralism, feminist or post-colonial perspectives offer new and relevant insights?
  • As peace-building is often approached via external intervention, what role do people affected by violence and peace play in peace building initiatives and how do external agents interact with them?
  • Are there locally situated definitions of peace that may extend – or contradict – notions of peace introduced from the outside?
  • How do common mechanisms of peace building programmes, such as state-building, democratization, security-sector reform, etc., foster or impede peace processes?
  • What are the lessons learned in peace building practice, and what do we acquire from this with regard to theory building and new practical approaches?
  • How can we conduct research into peace building and what methodological challenges need to be considered?


Key note addresses will be delivered by John Heathershaw (Exeter) and Rama Mani (Geneva).

The List of Presenters is available here

More information regarding the programme and registration will be posted soon.


Organisors: Susanne Buckley-Zistel, Annika Henrizi, Anne Lang, Julia Viebach, Robert Nagel

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Comment by Bhakta Raj Ranjit on September 3, 2012 at 10:22pm

Synergy Nepal, not-profit org is working on peacebuilding to resolve the current conflict between higher cast priest and ethnic groups. I am keen interested in practical aspects of peacebuilding. 

Comment by MOSOKE FRANCIS MOSOKE on September 3, 2012 at 12:04pm

i like what you guys are doing

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