Summary of "Peace, Culture, and Society: Transnational Research and Dialogue"

Summary of

Peace, Culture, and Society: Transnational Research and Dialogue

By Elise Boulding, Clovis Brigagao, and Kevin Clements, eds.

Summary written by Conflict Research Consortium Staff

Citation: Peace, Culture, and Society: Transnational Research and Dialogue. Elise Boulding, Clovis Brigagao, and Kevin Clements, eds. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1991, 308 pp.

Peace, Culture, and Society: Transnational Research and Dialogue is a collection of research papers investigating the social and cultural bases for peace, with strong emphasis on the need for transnational dialogue on peace issues. This collection is published in cooperation with the International Peace Research Association (IPRA), and grew out of the Association's 1988 conference in Brazil.

Peace, Culture, and Society: Transnational Research and Dialogue will be of interest to those who seek a better understanding of recent developments in peace research, and an understanding of the cultural bases of violence and nonviolence. This work is divided into twenty three essays, grouped into four topics. Part One discusses general and regional approaches to common security. Part Two discusses cultures of peace, focusing on the transition from violence to nonviolence. Part Three also discusses cultures of peace, with emphasis on socially, economically and politically peripheral populations. Part Four examines the role of social movements and mass media in promoting a nonviolent peace culture. Each section begins with an introduction by Elise Boulding, current secretary-general of the IPRA.

Part One focuses on common security, and includes papers from the IPRA's Weapons Technology and Disarmament Study Group. Peri Pamir discusses the path to common security, focusing on the need to eliminate the nuclear threat. Lothar Brock discusses stable security arrangements between states with different social systems, drawing on experience of the European Conference on Security and Cooperation, and on the Helsinki Act. Dion Phillips discusses the politics of security in the Caribbean. Peter Bushel Okoh assesses the prospects and realities of peace initiatives in Africa. Sanaa Osseiran approaches the issue of common security by exploring three Middle East conflicts: Israel-Palestinian, the Lebanese civil war, and the Iran-Iraq war. She argues superpower intervention hindered the negotiation process and exacerbated these conflicts. Kevin Clements discusses common security issues in the Asia-Pacific region, with emphasis on market forces and their potential environmental exploitation. Finally, Kenneth Boulding describes the learning process which may lead to a stable peace among nations.

Part Two emphasizes the development of long-term cultural structures of cooperation, and includes papers from the Study Group on Nonviolence, Women and Militarism, and from the Peace Education Commission. Vicenc Fisas Armengol outlines ten bases for a culture of peace, including "new ways to perceive and respond to threat." Chaiwat Satha-Anand discusses the transition from violence centered discourse to nonviolent discourse. Patricia Mische proposes that we use the earth itself as a teacher; a better understanding of environmental and life processes may enhance community-building and creative problem-solving. Ranjit Chaudhuri explores the relation between conflict and values via a study of grassroots conflicts in India. Alfredo Wagner Berno de Almeida discusses citizenship and rural conflicts in Brazil. Chaudhuri and Almeida both discuss the way in which democratization can go awry, and offer specific remedies. And finally, Ian Harris explains the role of social conditioning in male violence.

Part Three, "Voices from the Periphery," includes papers from the Study Group on Human Rights and Development, and from the Study Group on Women and Militarism. Amechi Uchegbu discusses human and people's rights as set forth in the Banjul Charter of Africa. He describes the struggle to "redefine human rights in a way that authentically roots them in African traditions." Georg Sorensen explores the impact of development from the perspective of children. Birgit Brock-Utne discusses underdevelopment and the oppression of women from a feminist perspective. And lastly, Maria Elana Valenzuela discusses the situation of women under dictatorship and military regime, via the case of Chile.

Part Four discusses agents of peace culture, with papers from the Peace Movements Study Group, the Communications Study Group, and the Religion and Conflict Study Group. Chadwick Alger offers suggestions for creating global visions for peace movements, by exploring the phenomena of social movements more generally. Katsuya Kodama describes a paradigm for the new peace movements in Western Europe, which incorporates environmental, feminist, localist, and participatory interests. Kusum Singh discusses the role of media in peace movements. She suggests that the media are not as powerful as is commonly thought, and emphasizes the power of personal or grassroots communication. Roger Williamson presents a project outline for the development of a global research network on the churches' role in promoting peace.

Peace, Culture, and Society: Transnational Research and Dialogue moves beyond concerns of security and conflict resolution, to explore and develop cultural patterns which will lead to lasting peace. These papers are quite accessible to the lay reader.