The discourses and practices of peace building processes vary from post-conflict and volatile environments to regions of political insecurity or inequality particularly for ethnic minorities and/or indigenous peoples. Diverse though the contexts may be, many of the processes that aim to achieve or sustain peace often tend to exclude local communities and treat them as beneficiaries instead of active participants, creators, and agents. This has often led to very limited successes or even failures ranging from continuation of conflict to continuation of political insecurities and inequalities for local communities. Such results have prompted questions about the legitimacy of external and top-down peace building approaches, and increased calls for local ownership and participation in peace processes. The `view from below`, developing both in academic as well as policy circles, emerged as a response to this criticism. This Critical Interdisciplinary Conference on Studying Peace from Below aims to interrogate and problematize how the `from below` perspective has been used in teaching, research, and policy (in educational and research institutions, as well as state, regional, and supranational organizations, e.g. the EU, the AU, the ASEAN, the UN etc.).

Recently, the UN identified peace and strong institutions, justice, reducing inequalities, and gender equality as some of the important themes to be addressed in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In view of these, we want to explore and better understand the relevance and significance of studying peace from below vis-à-vis the SDGs, with a particular focus on the issues of achieving peace and strong institutions, justice, reducing inequalities, and gender equality. The core objective is to examine the possibilities, tensions, and even contradictions that are inherent in ‘the view from below’ as it has been conceptualized and applied so far. What kind of results or consequences has it had for the interdisciplinary field of peace studies and adjacent fields? We also ask what it has allowed us to accomplish, how the perspective from below translates into teaching and policy environment(s) and what happens to it throughout that process.

The conference welcomes both theoretical and empirical discussions. We would particularly welcome submissions that address the ‘view from below’ problematic within the following crosscutting topics:

Identity Politics and Peace

While it was a major concern to both academics and policy makers in the 1990s and early 2000s, identity politics (eg: various ethnicities including indigenous) have remained profoundly germane to the understanding of present-day political conflicts and insecurities, as they relate to the recent revivalism of ethnicity and nationalism across the globe from far-right populism, nationalistic authoritarianism, to ethnic cleansing and genocide. This panel considers identity politics and intersectional analyses as an important theme to approaching peace from below. We invite papers that explore theoretical insights and empirical cases with regard to the significance of social and political identities to notions of peace in general, and to practices of peacebuilding from below, in particular.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Gender Justice, and Peace

Gender, peace, and sustainable development are closely linked. While gender justice is a precondition for peace and integral to all dimensions of inclusive and sustainable development, gender inequality could lead to political insecurities, conflict and violence at all levels. This thematic section welcomes papers that critically address gender, including intersectional analyses, in peace and development in general. In particular, it welcomes papers that address how gender issues have been framed discursively within the SDGs and the gaps in the SDG narrative on gender issues and its implications for peace and sustainable development both in the Global North and South.

Gendered Agency and Transitional Justice (TJ)

While TJ acknowledges importance of gender, ‘gendering TJ’ often gets skewed towards ‘women victims of war-time rape’ discussions. Critical voices point to the homogenization of women`s experiences of war, the denial of agency, and the re-production of patriarchal structures that, under the auspices of “doing gender” police and perpetuate stereotypes while failing to acknowledge the diverse expressions of femininities, masculinities, and the intersection of grievances along other axes of identity. Against this background, this stream welcomes papers that address the following aspects: TJ as/verses intersectional justice; and masculinities/femininities/queerness in TJ.


Abstracts between 300-500 words together with a short bio should be submitted by 15th June, 2019 through email: In the email, authors should indicate their primary and secondary preferences regarding the thematic streams within which they would like to present their papers.


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Centre for Peace Studies/UiT