UNE Peace Studies Conference 2015
26 – 28 August 2015
School of Humanities
232 Church Street, Parramatta
Questioning 'peace formation' and 'peace infrastructure'
(Image on right is a detail from 'Gaia', a painting by Marty Branagan,
reproduced here with the artist's permission.)
In recent years the partnered terms of 'peace formation' (offered as an alternative to 'peacebuilding') and 'peace infrastructure' have been promoted as the advancement of peace and conflict studies, particularly when it is linked to the idea of localism. Some have referred to this push as part of 'the local turn'.
These terms have been presented a response to the criticism established a decade ago, that 'peacebuilding' – state and market-focused, centralised and bureaucratic – had become an inherently conservative undertaking seeking managerial solutions to fundamental conflicts over resources and power, attempting to modernise and re-legitimise a fundamental status quo respectful of a national and international market economy (Bendaña, 2003, p. 5).
The school of thought in which these terms have been developed, 'the critique of liberal peace' or 'the alternative discourse', is self-described as 'illiberal' because it criticises Western liberalism and the cultural bias conceptions of peace. But, on paper, it is not clear how the alternative discourse is any less liberal and prescriptive than liberal peace. Indeed, the 'alternative' often espouses seemingly very liberal notions, for instance, the commitment to 'peace', otherwise termed 'eirenism' (Richmond, 2009).
While the theories of peace formation and peace infrastructure have emerged from Lederach's conflict transformation school of thought by prioritising the mid-level approach to 'forming' peace, it could be that the theories' prescriptions – for instance, presenting 'peace' as a constant and concrete term – are moving into a conflict resolution approach to peace.
Some define peace infrastructure from the ideal perspective of peace formation, as an emancipatory approach based on local and hybridised networks of peace activity and is necessarily reliant on international support, while others define peace infrastructure by emphasising organisational elements such as the network and cooperation of international actors, government agencies, civil society and conflict parties aspiring to a peace constant. In the broader critical school of peace formation, the notions are intended to represent the 'everyday', pragmatic and, hence, 'local' forms of peaceful activity.
It seems necessary that if peace infrastructure is the 'new way' of peace and conflict studies, and if it includes itself in a scientific pursuit of peace, a standard definition should be considered. The conference invites supporting and opposing papers on defining peace infrastructure. Yet, the conference also questions whether 'peace infrastructure', as a concept, term and plan for implementation, is any different to previous, much-maligned concepts of 'tick-box peacebuilding' that prefers bureaucratic and economic 'solutions' to often social and cultural problems.
The conference seeks to advance this debate by inviting an interdisciplinary and interactive discussion. We would like to invite theorists, practitioners and practical-theorists, from a variety of Humanities interests, on topics including:
Peace of politics
Peace of 'the local'
Peace of the past
Peace in the future
Interested candidates are requested to send abstracts (200-250 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org 17 April 2015. Applicants will be notified of their success by the end of April.
Presentations may be proposed in two formats:
- A traditional format of 20 minutes presentation and 10 questions, Or
- As a workshop in which you will briefly deliver a project proposal or idea (10 mins long) to then have an interactive and constructive discussion with the audience.
We request that full papers are submitted before the conference (TBA), and selected papers will be published in a special journal edition.
Registration fees, which will be covering morning and afternoon tea and lunch during the conference days, will be as follows
If requested, the organisers can assist in book accommodation and arranging transport.