Journal Article: Meaning‐Making in Peace‐Making: The Inclusion Norm at the Interplay between the United Nations and Civil Society in the Syrian Peace Process

Author: Sara Hellmüller

This article presents an analytical model to understand norm change through inter‐subjective meaning‐making. It applies this model to analyze how the United Nations and Syrian civil society actors defined the norm of civil society inclusion in the framework of the Syrian peace process. It shows that norm change happened through two interlinked dynamics: processes in which the actors built congruence between the inclusion norm and other salient norms in their normative environments and processes in which the actors inter‐subjectively constructed the meaning of the inclusion norm. The article’s contribution is twofold. First, it adds to the norms literature by presenting a multidirectional model of norm reformulation and providing fine‐grained empirical data on it. Second, it contributes to the mediation literature by shedding light on the meaning of inclusion not just from an international perspective, but also from the viewpoint of domestic civil society actors.

Journal Article: Peace, Development, and the Unresolved Land Issue in South Africa

Author: Anna Jarstad

South Africa is a case where power sharing involving parties representing both Blacks and Whites eased the transition from apartheid to democracy, and its success has often been referred to as a “miracle”. Yet, a quarter century after the end of apartheid, it is clear that a major issue that was not resolved during the peace negotiations—the land issue—still shapes the character of the peace. Drawing on interviews conducted with activists in three informal settlements in Johannesburg, as well as interviews with the Orania Movement and MPs, this article shows how the unresolved land issue affects the various parts of society and has profound consequences for the character of peace in South Africa, the level of security, health issues, economic development, and the issue of citizenship and belonging.

Journal Article: Theatre for peacebuilding: transforming narratives of structural violence

Author: Nilanjana Premaratna

Structural violence and arts are the two domains brought together in this article, which explores the potential of sustained engagement through theatre in building peace within violent structural narratives at community level. Based on an empirical study in West Bengal, India, this piece argues that theatre has the potential to bring prevalent but less-heard narratives of structural violence into communal discourse. There are two key elements in this process: first, theatre offers a space where onstage resistance to structural violence is performed. Second, the performed resistance leads to triggering transformation within the violent structural narratives.

Journal Article: Harmonious Relations: A Framework for Studying Varieties of Peace in Music-Based Peacebuilding

Author: Gillian Howell

This article presents an analytical framework for systematically studying the relationships portrayed within music-based peacebuilding and their respective representations of peace. Music activities with peacebuilding objectives work predominantly within a relational concept of peace, bringing into existence relationships between sounds, people, and spaces through which behaviours such as non-dominance and cooperation can be enacted. However, each of these relationships can communicate different ideas about peace and its manifestation, communications that may be inconsistent with each other and with the activity’s peaceful intentions. The “harmonious relations” framework that this article introduces is a tool for capturing and analysing these embedded relationships and representations. It uses concepts of harmony as a heuristic for critically appraising music’s potential contributions to peace in development contexts, synthesising ideas about relationships in peace and music from peace studies, musicology, philosophy and anthropology. The case of the Zohra Ensemble from Afghanistan illustrates its application.

Journal Article: Exploring Peace in the Midst of War: Rojava as a Zone of Peace?

Author: Anders Nordhag


War and peace are often depicted as mutually exclusive phenomena; where there is violent conflict, peace is absent. This assumption is problematic because it obscures cases where groups, networks, or communities create peaceful situations for themselves in the midst of, or in close proximity to, war. This article focuses on Rojava, a predominantly Syrian Kurdish area in northern Syria. Since the start of the Syrian war, Rojava was for a long time an island of relative security in an otherwise violent context. This article explores Rojava between 2011 and 2014 through theories and empirical examples of zones of peace where local communities in violent conflicts create spaces that are off limits to violence. The article concludes that because violence is not prohibited in Rojava, it cannot be considered a peace zone. Yet the case shows that peacebuilding is possible beyond minimising effects of violence even during a violent conflict.

Journal Article: Friends, Fellows, and Foes: A New Framework for Studying Relational Peace

Authors: Johanna Söderström, Malin Åkebo and Anna Jarstad

In this article, we suggest that taking a relational view of peace seriously is a fruitful avenue for expanding current theoretical frameworks surrounding peace as a concept. Paving the way for such an approach, this article conducts a review of the literature that takes on peace as a relational concept. We then return to how a relationship is conceptualized, before turning to how such components would be further defined in order to specify relational peace. Based on this framework, we argue that a peaceful relationship entails deliberation, non-domination, and cooperation between the actors in the dyad; the actors involved recognize and trust each other and believe that the relationship is either one between legitimate fellows or one between friends. The article clarifies the methodological implications of studying peace in this manner. It also demonstrates some of the advantages of this approach, as it shows how peace and war can coexist in webs of multiple interactions, and the importance of studying relations, and how actors understand these relationships, as a way of studying varieties of peace.

Special Issue: Preventing Future Ethnic Conflicts in West Kalimantan

Author: Asmawita Fithri Hasyim Syah

This paper analyzes the history of ethnic conflicts in West Kalimantan as well as the strategies previously used for conflict resolution and peacebuilding with the aim of contributing to the prevention of future ethnic conflict in the region. It builds on data collected through in-depth interviews, focus groups, and ethnographic research in West Kalimantan, and focuses on episodes of conflict and peacebuilding from 1950 and onwards. The findings of the analysis demonstrate that traditional dialogue and mediation have been the most successful strategies to resolve conflict and prevent further outbreaks of violence. Through traditional dialogue, violent conflict between the Dayaks and Madurese has largely stopped since 1999. Consequently, it is recommended that traditional forms of dialogue should take place regularly to provide forums to address conflict issues non-violently and, at an early stage, to prevent future eruptions of violence.

Special Issue: Peace and Protection of Minority Rights through Constitutional and Legal Institutionalization in Muslim-Majority Countries

Author: Benjamin Yek Kwan Pwee

This paper looks at the majority-minority conflict between the Muslim-majority and non-Muslim minority populations in Islamic and Muslim-majority countries using Malaysia as a case study. It examines how non Muslim ethnic and religious minorities in Malaysia have been voicing their concerns and protesting against an ongoing Islamization of Malaysia, where they feel their private and public lives being encroached upon by Islam and Islamic laws and regulations, imposed by the Muslim-majority. Some examples of these voices of protests are from Dr. Kam-Weng Ng, Johan Saravanamuttu, and the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA). The paper goes on to introduce different types of minority rights and concerns. Such an analysis identifies and specifies concerns that require different responses. The paper also outlines Islamic political thought on pluralism and diversity within an Islamic worldview and how researchers like Abdullah and Alim draw from Qu’ranic sources to argue for the protection of non-Muslim minorities. Finally, this paper looks at recent political writings by Malaysian Islamic thinkers’ conceptualizations of Islamic governance that protects minority rights.

Special Issue: The Extents and Limits of ASEAN’s Adoption of Women, Peace and Security Agenda

Author: Fitriani

The Women, Peace and Security (WPS) adoption through UN Security Council Resolution No. 1325 in 2000 is a global acceptance of the struggle for respect for the rights of women, as well as acknowledgement for the need to include their meaningful contribution to peace. However, such acceptance of the WPS agenda is relative and varied between regions and countries in the world. This article focuses on the extents and limits of WPS adoption in the Southeast Asian region, using as case studies ASEAN and its member states. The article provides an overview of the history of the WPS agenda and its gradual ASEAN adoption, shifting the initial regional commitment from focusing on women’s economic and human rights to their involvement in mediation and peace. The article argues that the nature of ASEAN, with its principle of non-interference, preference for non-binding mechanisms and varied development on women’s empowerment, hamper the adoption of a structured implementation of the WPS agenda through regional action plan.

Special Issue: Introduction: Exploring Varieties of Peace in Asia

Authors: Elisabeth Olivius and Veronica Strandh

This special edition highlights how notions of peace, as well as institutions, practices and relationships that can foster peace, are shaped by and need to be anchored in their specific context of implementation. All three articles show that the experience of peace differs between people in the same location along axes of inequality and difference such as gender, ethnicity, and religion. In exploring how peace varies, we thus need to attend to variation across space and place as well as to variation between differently positioned individuals and groups within society. Shedding new light on these issues in their respective empirical settings, these three articles constitute important contributions to an ongoing research effort aiming to provide a fuller picture of what peace is, how it is manifested, experienced, and understood, and how this varies.

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