EASA2012: Uncertainty and disquiet

Nanterre University, France, 10/07/2012 – 13/07/2012

(W035)

Anthropology of peace, anthropology for peace / Anthropologie de la paix, anthropologie pour la paix

Location S304
Date and Start Time 11 Jul, 2012 at 11:30

Convenors

Roger Canals (University of Barcelona) email
Andrew Canessa (University of Essex) email
Gemma Celigueta Comerma (Universitat de Barcelona) email
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Short Abstract

This workshop seeks to connect anthropology with peace studies investigating (1)the multiplicity of concepts which exist around the notion of "peace" from an ethnographic perspective and (2) the role which anthropology can play in conflict resolution and establishing peace.

Long Abstract

Anthropology has historically addressed the social and cultural nature of war, conflict and violence. It nevertheless seems possible—and even necessary—to redirect this tradition towards an anthropology of peace, one which does not emphasize the logic behind the confrontation but, rather, focuses on local strategies for reformulating conflict and the multiplicity of culturally specific concepts that exist around the notion of peace. In this sense, we aim to investigate the figures and rituals of peace which aim to rebuild the social fabric.

We also aim to examine the role which anthropology can play in peace and conflict resolution processes, which we call "anthropology for peace". In this section, we explore ethnical and political issues related to the anthropologist's object of study, questioning, from an anthropological perspective, the universality of the concept of "peace", as well as the criteria upon which "peace plans" are designed and implemented.

With this double reflection—on an anthropology of peace and an anthropology for peace—we want to create a dialogue between anthropology and peace studies, starting from the premise that anthropology can offer new theoretical paradigms for understanding the logic of peace and for devising methodological strategies aimed at repairing and rebuilding the social fabric in the aftermath of conflict.

Discussant: Gemma Orobitg (University of Barcelona)

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Categorisation, the Good Friday Agreement and the anthropology of peace/pacification

Author: Andrew Finlay (Trinity College, Dublin)  email
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Short Abstract

Rejecting the tradition in peace studies for anthropologists to be cast as experts in local cultures, this paper outlines an alternative role based in Foucault’s injunction that we attempt an ascending analysis of power starting from it micro practices. The ‘peace process’ in Ireland is used to illustrate the potential of such an analysis.

Long Abstract

Hitherto, peace studies has been dominated by political science. While there are signs of a renewed interest in anthropology amongst some political scientists, the role assigned to us remains more or less the same as ever; namely, to comprehend the local cultures that that are thought to be both the underlying cause of ethnic conflict, and the means to its resolution. The proposed paper starts from the position that this is a based on a misconception of conflict, peace and anthropology. That being so, the paper does two things.

Firstly it seeks to develop a more critical role for anthropologists in the study of peacemaking. This is an anthropology of peacemaking that would draw inspiration from Foucault's twofold injunction regarding the analysis of power: that we seek to understand it not only as repression but also in its capacity to produce, and that we attempt an ascending analysis starting from the micro practices of power and focussing on how these become invested by ever more general mechanisms such as to become hegemonic.

Second, the paper seeks to illustrate the potential of such an approach with a case study; ie the peace process in Ireland. Tracing the history of a vernacular approach to identifying friend and enemy - known locally as 'telling' - this article explores the refinement of categories and mechanisms of categorisation through the peace process and their elevation to constitutional principle in the peace agreement reached on Good Friday 1998.

Shifting from communal violence to coexistence in eastern Indonesia

Author: Christopher Duncan (Arizona State University)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper explores how local communities in the eastern Indonesian province of North Maluku understand the concepts of peace and reconciliation as they attempt to rebuild communities torn apart by the ethnic and religious violence that swept the region in 1999-2001.

Long Abstract

This paper explores local strategies for peace and reconciliation in post-conflict communities in the eastern Indonesian province of North Maluku. These communities were torn apart by a period of ethno-religious violence that swept the region from 1999 to 2001. The paper explores the different ways that local communities perceive of the concepts of "peace" and "reconciliation" in the aftermath of this violence. In the decade since the fighting stopped, communities have tried to re-build inter-faith relationships. The paper explores how certain portions of the community have sought to reinvigorate customary law as a conflict prevention mechanism and as a source of reconciliation. Those involved efforts believe that a revitalization of customary law will shift people's focus of identity from their religion, the cause of the recent conflict, to their ethnicity, a shift that would supposedly transcend religious differences. These efforts have taken the form of large scale public ceremonies, as well as efforts to revive particular customary notions about conflict resolution that had disappeared in the second half of the twentieth century. The paper also examines the ambivalence that has greeted this public rhetoric about peace and reconciliation from local communities. In particular I contrast grassroots understandings of the "peace" with how they are deployed with those of the local elite who are behind this revitalization effort.

Traditional elites, culture and peacebuilding: anthropology's (possible) contributions to peace research

Author: Birgit Bräuchler (Monash University)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper challenges widespread international notions and mechanisms of peace and 'culture for peace'. Drawing on case studies in Eastern Indonesia, East Timor and the Philippines, it critically explores what traditional elites and anthropological research can contribute to peacebuilding.

Long Abstract

This paper first challenges widespread international notions and mechanisms of peace, such as the concept of liberal peace, and tracks down the paradigm shift in international peacebuilding discourses and the ambivalent role 'culture' plays in this. It argues for the importance of considering the cultural dimension(s) of peacebuilding processes, but, at the same time, warns of a superficial implementation of popular concepts in international development cooperation such as ownership and participation.

As part of the aforementioned paradigm shift, traditional justice mechanisms are increasingly integrated into transitional justice programs that are meant to initiate and lead the transition to political stability and sustainable peace of societies that have experienced mass violence or authoritarian, dictatorial regimes. Based on case studies in East Timor and the Philippines and on fieldwork in a post-conflict setting in Eastern Indonesia (Maluku) where traditional justice mechanisms are an important means to sustainably reunite society after years of violent (religious) conflicts, the paper then deconstructs the simplified image of 'culture for peace' and critically explores what anthropological research and a focus on 'culture' can contribute to peacebuilding processes. To this end, it analyses the (re)emergence and the (re)invention of traditional local elites that are part of so-called traditional justice mechanisms and play an important, but ambivalent role in current peacebuilding and decentralization processes throughout Southeast Asia.

How peace came to Madagascar: reflections on the concept of fihavanana

Author: Peter Kneitz (Martin-Luther University, Halle (Saale))  email
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Short Abstract

My paper offers a case study on Madagascar, whose political and moral landscape changed dramatically around 1900 when regular feuding and warfare was replaced by a pacified nation. Which lessons can be learnt from this turn towards the peaceful postcolonial Malagasy state?

Long Abstract

War was a common feature on the island of Madagascar up to the end of 19th century. French colonization marked an important shift towards a (relative) peaceful state, including a new self-representation of Malagasy themselves as a decidingly peaceful people. The moral concept of fihavanana (solidarity) is nowadays central to regulate and to avoid conflicts in all spheres of the Malagasy society, including politics and the ongoing negotiations to solve a deep political crisis.

My paper will first examine some of the specific historical aspects of the remarkable turn towards peace studied here, which seems to contradict much established wisdom on postcolonial wars and terror. Relevant aspects evoked are, among others, the construction of a new national identity, a shared antagonism against France and the development of moral concepts of the Malagasy Republic as well as its incorporation through family and education.

On a more general level it will suggested that the case seems to confirm again the long-standing observation of peace as an active process, and not just the non-existence of war. Consequently, one of the questions coming up is: How moral notions like the Malagasy fihavanana can be used for turning war into peace? And is it really possible to integrate consciously such moral concepts, as peace-building assumes, and to realize what was in the Malagasy case an involuntary turn into a peaceful society?

Le fihavanana de Madagascar: Une stratégie de paix

Author: Mariona Rosés (Universitat de Barcelona)  email
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Short Abstract

Le fihavanana est un concept culturel malgache qui se réfère aux relations interpersonnelles fondées sur la confiance et la paix sociale. Dans la résolution de conflits au niveau local les liens de fihavanana favorisent la réconciliation et le rétablissement de la structure sociale préalable au conflit.

Long Abstract

À Madagascar, le terme fihavanana se réfère à la façon de penser et de vivre les relations interpersonnelles depuis une perspective harmonique, de « paix sociale ». Le fihavanana est un concept culturel propre de la société malgache qui implique l'obligation morale de prendre en considération à l'autre « comme un parent », en créant le sentiment de faire partie d'un tout intégré. En ce sens, le fihavanana se manifeste par des règles et des coutumes lesquelles offrent des mécanismes d'aide et de sûreté mutuelle fondés sur la solidarité entre les membres.

Les liens de fihavanana favorisent la régulation des tensions sociales et ils assurent la paix grâce à la confiance et l'estime dans les relations sociales. Quand il se produit un conflit qui touche la structure sociale, l'objectif principal est « le retour du fihavanana », la restitution de la paix sociale, du lien de fihavanana qui existe entre les parties en dispute. En ce sens, la procédure de résolution de conflits au niveau local est comprise comme un acte rituel qui a pour but de remettre « les choses en place », c'est-à-dire, de rétablir la structure sociale préalable au conflit.

À partir d'un exemple ethnographique, nous voulons exposer comment se manifestent les liens de fihavanana dans les communautés rurales de Madagascar. De même, nous voulons présenter les procédures de résolution de conflits au niveau local, en prenant en compte que dans le contexte rurale malgache prédomine la règle de la non-confrontation et la réconciliation est toujours l'objectif désiré.

'Presencing past' for the future: applied storytelling in the context of northern Irish post-conflict peacebuilding

Author: Magdalena Weiglhofer  email
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Short Abstract

In this paper, I discuss the connection between real life storytelling and the current peace building process in Northern Ireland. I specifically focus on one community arts project that uses storytelling as a primary strategy to achieve social change whilst considering issues of ‘truth’, ownership and power discourses.

Long Abstract

Since the 'Good Friday Agreement' in 1998, peace-building initiatives have proliferated in Northern Ireland. Amongst these, the arts have played a prominent role, drawing on a range of international and locally devised models. Some of those, mostly community-based, arts projects attempt to reconcile identity groups who are in conflict by using narratives and personal storytelling. However, research on both the processes and the impact of such work has been scanty and under-developed. In this paper, I analyse those processes of telling personal life stories in public and seek to explore their impact on an inter-personal, inter-group and wider societal level within a still divided society. I also take into account the interdependency between private and public meaning and consider aspects of ownership, agency and power discourses as well as issues of 'truth' and possible risks through this process of displaying one's own experiences to a public space.

The paper is based on ethnographic research on a community project that used the tool of storytelling transformed into drama to foster stability, reconciliation and peaceful human interaction in the post-conflict society of Northern Ireland. At the end of a two year long process, two original theatre productions were performed by inter-generational groups of people from different backgrounds who have been affected directly or indirectly by 'The Troubles'. Through methodological triangulation using participant observation, in-depth interviews and other sources of data (written feedback, project reports, reviews, newspaper articles) I seek to understand and explain what storytelling can contribute to a peace process in a society coming out of conflict.

Parler, regarder, agir sans troubler. Une ethnographie de la paix en Équateur

Author: Montserrat Ventura Oller (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)  email
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Short Abstract

La communication prendra la société Tsachila (Équateur) comme exemple ethnographique pour faire dialoguer des formes de relation sociales déployées par ce groupe, dont les rapports pacifiques sont mis en avant dans plusieurs registres de la pensée et de la pratique, avec une approche théorique favorisant la paix en tant que fondement des sociétés humaines.

Long Abstract

Dans un moment où la coopération est étudiée par l'anthropologie cognitive en termes d'une construction de sens partagé, et où cette coopération est valorisée par l'anthropologie sociale comme étant à la base de la convivialité - ce sorte d'état social idéal dans beaucoup de sociétés amérindiennes -, l'ethnographie de la vie paisible nous offre une base de données précieuse pour une anthropologie de et pour la paix. La communication à présenter prendra la société Tsachila de l'Équateur comme exemple ethnographique pour faire dialoguer des formes de relation sociales déployées par ce groupe, dont les rapports pacifiques sont mis en avant dans plusieurs registres de la pensée et de la pratique, avec une approche théorique favorisant la paix en tant que fondement des sociétés humaines.

Faire la « paix » dans la nuit. Rêves et apparitions des âmes dans le contexte post-violence des Andes Péruviennes.

Author: Arianna Cecconi (University of Milano-Bicocca)  email
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Short Abstract

Dans cet exposé nous analyserons le rôle que jouent les rêves et les apparitions des âmes des parents disparus dans le contexte post-guerre des Andes Péruviennes. Nous focaliserons l’attention sur les rêves comme l’une des stratégies locales pour « faire la paix » dans un contexte qui a été très touché par la violence.

Long Abstract

Les rêves et les apparitions des âmes des morts jouent un rôle important dans les communautés paysannes des Andes Centrales du Pérou. Dans cet exposé nous analyserons le rôle que ces experiences assument dans le contexte post-guerre. La région d'Ayacucho, où nous avons mené notre travail ethnographique, est située à l'épicentre d'un conflit armé (1982-1992) entre le mouvement révolutionnaire maoïste Sendero Luminoso et l'armée (FFAA) de l'État péruvien. Dans les années après la fin de la guerre, plusieurs rêves concernent des « visites » nocturnes où les parents disparus (desaparecidos) se manifestent aux familiers pour leur apporter des messages, des révélations, pour les menacer où pour les rassurer. Pour les habitants des communautés paysannes les rêves ne représentent pas seulement une expérience « pathogène », dans laquelle la guerre s'actualise, mais on leur attribue aussi une forme de guérison, décrite comme une expérience « thérapeutique ». Certains rêves activent des pratiques et accompagnent les survivants dans le délicat processus d'élaboration du deuil des parents disparus. Dans cet exposé, nous focaliserons l'attention sur les rêves comme l'une des stratégies locales pour « faire la paix » et pour résoudre certains conflicts dans un contexte très touché par la violence.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.