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Pacifism and Nonviolence: Cultivating a New Research Agenda

International relations
Political theory
VIR06
Alexandre Christoyannopoulos
University of Kent
Mona Lilja
University of Gothenburg

Tuesday 09:00 - 17:30 (19/04/2022)

Wednesday 09:00 - 16:30 (20/04/2022)

Tuesday 21:00 - 23:00 (19/04/2022)


Despite having long been dismissed as utopian and ineffective, what advocates of pacifism and nonviolence have been recommending turns out to actually be both effective and no less realistic than more violent alternatives. Over the past century, nonviolent methods of both resistance and governance have been increasingly adopted and have proved effective (Howes 2013). Even brutal regimes have collapsed in the face of nonviolent resistance (Chenoweth and Stephan 2011). Having a stronger army no longer guarantees military success (Biddle 2004). Whether in managing protests (Anisin 2016), criminality (Lanier et al 2018) or prisons (Liebling 2004), in counter-terrorism (Jackson 2017a), or in peacebuilding (Julian 2020), violent and repressive approaches tend to be counter-productive and less effective than well-designed nonviolent alternatives. Violence also entrenches patriarchy and other hierarchies of domination (Confortini 2006). In short, the mounting evidence against violence is increasingly unequivocal. This evidence is invigorating scholarship on violence, nonviolence and pacifism across multiple academic disciplines. Recent scholarship in political theory for example reflects on the power and effectiveness of violence and nonviolence (Howes 2010) and explores the place of nonviolence in thinking about the role of the state and the rule of law (Atack 2012). Fruitful overlaps have been explored for example between pacifism and other ideologies, such as anarchism (Fiala 2013) and feminism (Frazer and Hutchings 2014). In International Relations, the potential to rethink assumptions about just war theory and the effectiveness of violence is increasingly noted in critical security studies and critical terrorism studies, for example (Finlay 2019; Jackson 2017b; Wallace 2017). But valuable insights on pacifism, violence and nonviolence can be drawn from other disciplines and research areas too, including: religious studies; philosophy; historiography; sociology; anthropology; geography; psychology; and criminology. The time has come for the research questions emerging from such budding scholarship to be better nurtured and coordinated. A new flagship peer-reviewed journal grounded in politics and International Relations, the Journal of Pacifism and Nonviolence, is contracted to be launched with Brill in March 2023 with precisely that ambition. The aim of this workshop is to attract, discuss and strengthen potential papers for the first issues of the journal. As such, papers proposing to address any of the main themes covered by the journal’s research agenda are welcome. Potential topics therefore include: the varieties of approaches to nonviolence and pacifism; central accusations against pacifism; the tensions between pacifism and nonviolence; theories and practices that employ vocabularies different from those employed in the Global North; the multiple direct and indirect consequences of violence; the place of violence and nonviolence in political thought; the relationship between nonviolence/violence and gender, race and other identities; the religious roots of pacifism; the place of violence and nonviolence in popular culture (and the interests this serves); the potential for practical nonviolent policies of governance; predominant assumptions concerning violence in IR (about e.g. terrorism, the international order, just war); what makes an act ‘violence’ and when direct action becomes ‘violent’; and methodological challenges in the study of nonviolence and pacifism.

The workshop will consist of fully-developed papers that have not been published. It will be open to all applicants. To the best of our knowledge, no ECPR Joint Sessions has ever included a workshop focused on pacifism and nonviolence (the closest to it was arguably the “Peace Research and Policy – Assessing the Intersections” workshop in Nicosia 2018). As such, this workshop has the potential to attract scholars whose research interests have yet to be covered on this prestigious platform. Particularly encouraged to apply are participants drawn from the membership of the Standing Groups endorsing the workshop: Critical Peace and Conflict Studies; International Political Theory; Participation and Mobilization; and Political Violence. Paper proposals are also expected from the several dozen scholars across Europe (e.g. UK, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands) and beyond (e.g. USA, India, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Colombia) who have already expressed support for the project to launch the Journal of Pacifism and Nonviolence. Expected contributions include papers on focused on theory (political theory, history of political thought, international political theory), in critical international relations, in peace and conflict studies, on practices of nonviolent resistance, and on practical proposals (including public policy) to move away from violent practices. At the same time, given the rich interdisciplinary potential of the proposed focus on pacifism and nonviolence, the workhop will be open to any potential disciplinary focus and rigorous methodology provided the proposed research addresses a question covered by the forthcoming journal’s research remit. Empirical, comparative as well as theoretical contributions to the topic are therefore invited. The intention is to have an evenly balanced workshop between different methodological approaches. The organisers will also strive to achieve a fair gender, country and career balance.

Title Details
21st century decolonization, or why we need 'unusual' dispute resolutions View Paper Details
What Makes a Movement Nonviolent? Bridging Theory with Practice. View Paper Details
¡Basta Ya! The Basque civic movement and nonviolent resistance to ETA’s terrorism View Paper Details
The Failure of the European Project: An Anarcho-Pacifist Critique View Paper Details
Digital Nonviolence: a New Research Agenda View Paper Details
Towards a taxonomy of pacifism View Paper Details
Jacques Ellul's Nonviolent Christian Revolution View Paper Details
Peace and the problem of violence View Paper Details
Integrating representative democracy through non-violent proposals. Two cases in comparison: Danilo Dolci and Extinction Rebellion View Paper Details
Pacifist sources among civil society activists View Paper Details
Conceptualising a non-violent practice to mimetic, rivalrous, violence View Paper Details