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Call for Papers – Peacebuilding

Call for papers for international workshop

on 5-7 December 2018 in Antwerp (Belgium)

deadline for submission: 3 June 2018

On 5-7 December 2018 UCSIA organizes an international academic workshop on Peacebuilding at the University of Antwerp, Belgium.

This is the third in a series of three workshops UCSIA is organizing to examine the problem of peace in light of contemporary global political and cultural conditions. What meaning does peace have today and what practices and institutions are taken to embody it? Does global public opinion value peace or does it favor the comfort of security?

A noble aspiration informs the practice of peacebuilding. Its animating idea is that the experience of war typically leaves such severe wounds that the achievement of a sustainable peace demands more than a mere ending of hostilities. Trust needs to be restored. Non-violent political processes need to be introduced again. Economic institutions and networks need to be re-established. If these structural issues are not attended to, it is the assumption, then violence is bound to erupt anew. It is relatively simple to enforce a negative peace, but more difficult to keep it. In order to durably keep the peace, it is crucial to build a positive peace. This is crucial but, as one readily understands, it is difficult. It requires commitment, patience and skill.

Peacebuilding is an international practice. This is not to deny that various grassroots actors engage in a myriad of activities that are intended to restore peace, to bring back together communities that had become alienated (and worse) during often long periods of war, or to revamp local economies. However, the very concept of peacebuilding is an invention of the international community, which consecrated it as a separate field of international policymaking by establishing the UN Peacebuilding Commission in 2005. The idea of peacebuilding is not just that a positive peace needs to be built. The idea is more particularly that the international community has a responsibility to help building it. It is unclear, and maybe unknowable, just how much ‘the international community’ has taken this responsibility to heart or just how successful its interventions are. But it is clear that a veritable peacebuilding industry has developed since 2005. Numbers of people, working in all kinds of international and non-governmental organizations, have become peacebuilding professionals.

Peacebuilding is not without its critics. Some criticism goes straight to the heart of the matter and argues that peacebuilding does not betray a noble aspiration but a hubristic one. It attacks the modernism of the notion. Peace can maybe grow or develop, but surely it cannot be built. Another important line of criticism concerns the relationship between international peacebuilders and local people. Peacebuilders have sometimes been charged with arrogance and with willful ignorance of local contexts. Peacebuilders bring a peace that local societies do not necessarily desire, or they intend to bring peace, but they end up inadvertently stoking conflict.

As happens so often, concepts that are true in theory do not necessarily work in practice. The purpose of this workshop will be to assess the theory and practice of peacebuilding.

Confirmed guest lecturers:

  • Filip Ejdus, Assistant Professor of International Relations, Faculty of Political Science, University of Belgrade
  • Atalia Omer, Associate Professor of Religion, Conflict and Peace Studies, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies
  • Michael Pugh, Emeritus Professor, University of Bradford
  • Oliver Richmond, Research Professor in International Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Manchester

The workshop consists of a two-day international meeting with specialized lectures and presentations and debates by invited senior and junior scholars. The aim is to offer a platform to scholars to present their research on the topic and exchange their ideas on research findings. Such a meeting may open up new multidisciplinary horizons to think about the topic. Presentations can summarize empirical research outcomes, but also historical, conceptual, methodological related contributions are welcomed for submission.

Researchers, doctoral students and other experts are welcome to submit their application until 3 June 2018. Full details on www.ucsia.org.

Organizing committee:

  • Tomas Baum, Director, Flemish Peace Institute
  • Etienne De Jonghe, former Director, Pax Christi International
  • Jorg Kustermans, Tenure Track Professor, Research Group International Politics, Dept. of Political Science, University of Antwerp
  • Tom Sauer, Head of the Research Group International Politics, Dept. of Political Science, University of Antwerp
  • Wim Smit, Director-General of Wereld Missie Hulp
  • Luc Braeckmans, Professor of Philosophy, University of Antwerp and Director of Academic Affairs, UCSIA
  • Dominiek Lootens, Theologian, Deputy Director of Academic Affairs, UCSIA
  • Barbara Segaert, Scientific Coordinator, UCSIA

Contact: Barbara Segaert, Project Coordinator, barbara.segaert@ucsia.be, T +32 (0) 3 265 45 94

More information: www.ucsia.org