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Call for Papers: Rethinking Pacifism for Revolution, Security, and Politics

01 May 2017 6:16 PM | Anonymous

Wednesday 22nd – Friday 24th November 2017
University of Otago, New Zealand

Call for Papers

For the greater part of the past century, pacifism has occupied a marginal place in international relations scholarship, politics, activism, media, and the wider society. Pacifism is rarely used as the basis for normative theorising about the use of force, and is rarely drawn upon as an important source for thinking about resistance, revolution, security, counterterrorism, peacebuilding, national defence planning, humanitarian intervention, political institutions, and the like. In part, this is due to the persistence of a number of key misconceptions, including that pacifism represents a single homogenous position which rejects any and all forms of force and violence, that pacifism involves inaction in the face of injustice, that it is politically naïve about the reality of evil, and that it is dangerous because it invites aggression. Other important misconceptions revolve around the nature of violence and force, and its purported utility and necessity for engendering political change, civilian protection, and securing politics in the state. The marginal position of pacifism is a puzzling state of affairs, given the noted insights and advantages of pacifist theory in relation to dominant IR theories and popular beliefs, and to recent robust empirical findings documenting the success and positive effects of nonviolent movements compared to violent movements.

This conference will explore what a new engagement with pacifism can offer to theories of revolution, practices of resistance, security policy and civilian protection, counterterrorism policy, political philosophy and democratic theory, state-building, peacebuilding, social justice movements, and other aspects of politics. Specifically, it will ask the question: To what extent, and under what conditions and circumstances, can pacifism offer theoretical and practical guidance in helping us to face the global challenges of war and militarism, terrorism and insurgency, rising wealth inequality, dispossession and colonialism, social injustice and oppression, political institutional unresponsiveness, and looming environmental catastrophe, among others? An important theme of the conference will explore what indigenous pacifist traditions have to teach Western political philosophy and international relations theory.

The Conference Organisers invite papers on any of the following broad themes and topics:

  • Pacifism and theories of revolution
  • Pacifism, security, national defence, counterterrorism, and civilian protection
  • Indigenous peace traditions and nonviolent resistance – historical and contemporary
  • The critique of violence, and its implications for pacifist theory
  • Pacifism, the state, democratic theory, and anarchism
  • Pacifism and nonviolent resistance theory and practice
  • Pacifism and religion, Christian pacifism
  • Pacifism and environmental justice

A selection of conference papers will be chosen for inclusion in a proposed edited volume, and/or a special journal issue.

The participation of political activists is also greatly encouraged, and there will be panels for activists and scholars to interact, and for activists to tell their stories and raise issues. If you are an activist and want to attend, please send a brief outline of what you would like to discuss.

Confirmed speakers

  • Professor Duane C. Cady, Hamline University, author of From Warism to Pacifism: A Moral Continuum (Temple University Press, 2010).
  • Professor Erica Chenoweth, University of Denver, co-author of Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict (Columbia University Press, 2011).
  • Professor Brian Martin, University of Wollongong, Australia, author of Nonviolence Unbound (Irene Publishing, 2015).
  • Professor Stellan Vinthagen, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, author of A Theory of Nonviolent Action: How Civil Resistance Works (Zed, 2015).
  • Dr Molly Wallace, author of Security Without Weapons: Rethinking Violence, Nonviolent Action, and Civilian Protection (Routledge, 2016)
  • Dr Jeremy Moses, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
  • Professor Richard Jackson, University of Otago, New Zealand

Please email paper ABSTRACTS, of no more than 300 words, to peaceandconflict@otago.ac.nz  by 16 June, 2017.

The conference fee is NZ$120 waged, NZ$50 unwaged. This includes refreshments and lunch during the duration of the conference. Please note: the conference fee does not include accommodation and, unfortunately, we are unable to offer travel grants or other forms of financial assistance.  

For further information about the conference and/or for updates, please email Professor Richard Jackson: richard.jackson@otago.ac.nz

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