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Introduction to Peace and Conflict IV

Introduction into Transrational Peaces and Elicitive Conflict Transformation
UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies
University of Innsbruck
Wolfgang Dietrich

Postmodern Peaces

Postmodernity does not relate to an epoch but to a state of mind, in which people do not believe in the great narration built upon Hobbes, Descartes and Newton.

The postmodern approach to peaces is largely based on observation – a lot of peace work consists of being present and observing the situation, as well as the parties involved. This in itself can adjust the behavior of the parties, now aware that somebody is watching them.

A Modernist Spaniard Antonio de Nebrija, for example, gave grammar to the world. He came up with the outline of introduction grammar into language, therefore standardizing it as the national treasure – and a tool of controlling. This story will become more relevant later on, but for now,  let’s just say that this approach gave the ruler a “weapon” of controlling the people, which also led to the limitation of human meaning within the constructions of language.

The postmodern approach to unification of parties is operating in a rather opposite manner. The peace symbol, as drawn by Gerald Haltom in 1958, was presented to the global public in the same year for the first demonstrations of citizens in England against  the construction of the first nuclear power plant. The peace symbol is a common mark of Postmodernism and its approaches to studying peace(s). It was only after the demonstrations in England, and the first use of the peace symbol, that the Peace Studies as a discipline were founded by Johan Galtung.

In conclusion, it can be said that “Peace and Conflict Studies was born under post-modern conditions.” It was founded due to DOUBT regarding the modern peace teachings of International Relations. This discipline is therefore postmodern per definition, as a “No thanks!” response to Modernist approaches.

Recommended readings:
Interpretations of Peace in History and Culture – Wolfgang Dietrich

Beyond the Gates of Eden: Trans-rational Peaces – Wolfgang Dietrich
– from “The Palgrave International Handbook of Peace Studies – A Cultural Perspective”

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