The "Local" in Global Understandings of War and Peacemaking. Anthropological and interdisciplinary perspectives

The "Local" in Global Understandings of War and Peacemaking. Anthropological and interdisciplinary perspectives

"Peace and Conflict Studies in Anthropology" - network of the European Association of Social Anthropologists
PRIO Cyprus Centre
Nicosia, Zypern
From - Until
01.09.2011 - 02.09.2011
Jens Adam


The "Local" in Global Understandings of War and Peacemaking
Anthropological and inter-disciplinary perspectives


NICOSIA, 1-2 September 2011

The last century has seen a proliferation of conflict in different sites, and of varying scale and form - from civil and revolutionary/liberation struggles, to inter-communal and global wars and, as the case of Cyprus clearly shows, combinations of the above. While much enquiry about the background of these conflicts, their nature and not least the so-called “war on terror” have brought the international world order and the discourse of liberalism and democracy into question, ‘the local’ still retains a rather parochial position within mainstream peace and conflict studies, remaining the curious exemplar that may confirm or refute the efficacy of ‘international norms’. New approaches in anthropology attempt to break away from the local/global dichotomy by focusing on the interconnectedness and trans-locality of peace and conflict, or by exploring the everyday of conflict through ethnographies of violence and subjectivity.

The 2011 joint PACSA-PRIO Cyprus Centre conference, organised with the support of the University of Nicosia, will re-examine these paradigms vis-à-vis the connection between anthropology and peace and conflict studies. Focussing on the dynamics of local-global relations, the conference aims to re-evaluate and strengthen anthropological contributions to peace and conflict studies as well as to the study of violence in general. It seeks to underscore the relevance of bottom-up studies of conflict both within and beyond anthropology and within an inter-disciplinary field that connects peace praxis and peace activism to political analysis, sociology, philosophy, and beyond. In combining these perspectives, the conference aims to reveal new potentialities in the re-conceptualisation of the ‘inter-disciplinarity’ of research in peace and conflict.
We thus invite participants to propose papers that contribute to the development of innovative concepts in peace and conflict studies by integrating local-level analyses of conflict with global understandings of war and peacemaking. Taking place in Nicosia’s Buffer Zone, the conference will provide participants with a unique opportunity to explore the comparisons between ‘their’ local sites and the protracted Cyprus conflict (attended by an equally protracted peace process) that reveals the blurred frontiers between peace, negotiations, conflict, militarization and war, and trans-national connections.

The following themes and questions will be considered as a starting point for discussion in the conference, as well as further elaboration in closed workshop sessions aiming to scrutinize anthropological practice in-depth and vis-à-vis other disciplinary frames:

- The temporality of peace and conflict processes: How clear or blurred are the boundaries between peace and war, violence and conflict, militarisation and pacification? What is the relation between modern/post-modern peace and conflict and the globalisation of capitalism? How is the enemy (distant or proximal, imaginary or real) constructed in times of conflict and peace?

- Peace and conflict research methodologies: How do new tools and methods (e.g. multi-sited ethnography, the extended case method) build upon anthropological knowledge, and how applicable are they across conflict sites?

- Figures of war and peace: How do the categories of the victim, the martyr and the perpetrator transform in time and space, from one conflict to another, “at home” and abroad? How do we account for the blurring of the boundaries between these figures?

- Military practices in conflict and peace: As militaries deploy in foreign sites they interact with/against local military personnel and civilians. How are these experiences framed? How are technologies and tasks “exchanged” in these contexts?

- The culture of non-state armed and paramilitary groups: In relation to how populations are militarized, non-state and state warlords have emerged that are involved in compelling human rights violations. How do these develop as élite groups, what is their history, structure and performance culture? How does this relate to the categories of peace and conflict?

- Anthropology and security: How do anthropologists relate to global processes of securitisation and emerging security architectures? How do local experiences articulate with the universalising logic of these wider discourses of security?

- Governance in zones of conflict: International organizations implement agreements, supervise local elections, and see that justice is made. Which policies guide the local and international actors involved, and what are their effects on people? How can we analyse international interventions as sites of exchange for global flows? How do anthropologists analyze governance in areas of limited statehood?

- Potentialities in the study of peace and conflict: Can a shift to the study of the ambivalent space of relations and to political scales bring to the fore the positive or negative potentialities of local relations? How can anthropological fieldwork enhance our understanding of the feasibility of peace plans and agreements?


Paper abstracts (max 300 words) should be submitted by April 30th 2011. Selected applicants will be informed by May 15th. Participants can apply for a limited number of travel grants.

To submit an abstract of up to 300 words or request further information, please contact


Contact (announcement)

Jens Adam
HU Berlin
Institut für Europäische Ethnologie
Mohrenstraße 41
10117 Berlin

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