Brief: War Widows’ Everyday Understandings of Peace in Aceh, Indonesia

Veronica Strandh and Benni Yusriza

What kind of peace can be established after a protracted conflict? How do marginalised groups, such as war widows, navigate through decades of hardship, and how do they understand peace in their everyday lives? This briefing sheds light on these questions through the lens of a group of war widows’ lived experiences of the conflict in Aceh, Indonesia, and their perceptions of how peace plays out in their lives. Our contribution is mainly empirical. We show how war widows use a “peace as no war narrative” and how this seems to work in tandem with what they call an “uneconomic peace.”


Journal Article: Spatial Struggles and the Politics of Peace: The Aung San Statue as a Site for Post-War Conflict in Myanmar’s Kayah State

Elisabeth Olivius and Jenny Hedström

This article explores processes of place-making and space-making around the erection of the Aung San statue in Kayah state in Myanmar and draws out the competing visions of peace that are articulated through them. The raising of the statue unleashed widespread public protest, which was largely met by repression by the Myanmar authorities. Drawing on interviews, focus groups, and documentary sources, the article argues that the statue constitutes an attempt to establish a post-war political order centred on the reassertion of government authority in ethnic minority areas and the creation of unity through the imposition of one national identity. However, the statue has also been appropriated as a key site for the articulation of alternative visions of peace and development. The conflict around the statue thereby makes visible ongoing struggles over the meaning of peace and shows how these post-war struggles are fought on and through space and place.


Journal Article: Dealing With Sri Lanka’s Demons: Using Documentary Film for Peacebuilding

Nilanjana Premaratna

Documentary film is a popular resource amongst peacebuilding organisations and practitioners. Despite this popularity, research on documentary film is still emerging in peace and conflict studies. This article explores documentary film’s role in the study and practice of peacebuilding by examining the documentary Demons in Paradise and its engagement with issues of peace and conflict in post-war Sri Lanka. This article makes conceptual, methodological, and empirical contributions. Drawing from empirical research, it identifies and discusses documentary film’s engagement along three analytical angles: documentary film as a text, within social processes, and within research processes. Under each angle, the paper explores how empirical observations and understanding of peace emerge through the visual, using diverse methods and data, including interviews, participant observation, visual elicitation in post-screening focus groups, and film analysis.


Journal Article: Peacebuilding, Official Development Assistance, and the Sustainable Development Goals: The United Nations Peacebuilding Funding Dashboard

Ayham Al Maleh, Etizaz Shah, Henk-Jan Brinkman and Viktoria von Knobloch

This brief focuses on identifying categories of peacebuilding areas and tracking of their associated expenditures based on recurring priorities of the United Nations (UN) in peacebuilding contexts. These are essential for coordination, planning, policy making, assessing peacebuilding needs, and developing lessons learned and may help illuminate the concept of peace. The paper discusses the methodologies developed to this effect by the UN Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) in the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA). It provides an overview of peacebuilding areas, peacebuilding categories within Official Development Assistance, and the interlinkages between peacebuilding and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Data on these items are presented in a dashboard developed at the request of the UN Secretary-General.


Journal Article: Beyond Liberal Peace in Sri Lanka: Victory, Politics, and State Formation

Malin Åkebo and Sunil Bastian

In 2009, the war between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ended through a military victory for the government. Features of the post-war peace—including persistent militarization, strengthened nationalism, and communal violence—have commonly been attributed to a failed attempt at liberal peacebuilding followed by an authoritarian backlash. In contrast, this study shows how the post-war peace has been shaped by historical processes of state formation aimed at consolidating the Sri Lankan state. The article takes a long-term approach to analysing peace in Sri Lanka through the lens of state formation. The analysis centres on four key aspects: (1) post-war security, (2) state–minority relations, (3) socio-economic aspects, and (4) electoral politics. We conclude that there are currently few signs of any substantial state reform that would accommodate the continuous demand for social justice and minority rights that has spurred violent conflicts in Sri Lanka.

Journal Article: Understanding Everyday Peace in Cambodia: Plurality, Subtlety, and Connectivity

Author: SungYong Lee

This article explores the nature of everyday peace in local communities in Cambodia. Drawing on interviews and observation and focusing on the reconstruction of relationship between community residents and former Khmer Rouge leaders, the analysis demonstrates that everyday peace in these communities is characterised by three features: plurality, subtlety, and connectivity. The findings demonstrate how the nature of social relationships with former harm-doers varies within and between communities; sheds light on the subtle, mundane, and episodic ways in which peace is sustained and manifested; and highlights the connectivity of local agency with broader political contexts that contribute to shaping everyday practices and experiences of peace. In conclusion, this article revisits the fixity and homogeneity of the peace in a society which is assumed by many studies, calls for further exploration of the prepolitical nature of everyday peace, and discusses implications for a recent academic debate over victims’ silence.

Author: Malin Åkebo

This paper contributes to filling a research and knowledge gap about how different types of ceasefire come about through a comparative case study of ceasefires in the Moro and communist insurgencies in the Philippines. The author argues that to understand differences in the characteristics of the ceasefires in these conflicts, it is important to consider the aims, ideologies and strategies of the conflicting parties and how this shapes their approach to a ceasefire. Based on interviews and document studies, the article maps the characteristics of ceasefires in both cases over time and analyses the approaches to ceasefires of the parties to the conflict. Knowledge of how ceasefires come about and what shapes them can help both academia and policymakers draw more informed and accurate conclusions about their outcomes and effects.

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.

1 / 4

Please reload

© 2017 by Varieties of Peace

  • Twitter - Black Circle
  • YouTube - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle