About the Virtual Encyclopaedia

The Virtual Encyclopaedia is a compilation of theory, research, and practice in peace and conflict studies from de- and postcolonial approaches, with an emphasis on the contributions from the collaborative network Postcolonial Hierarchies in Peace and Conflict. Conventionally, a defining feature of encyclopaedias has been their purpose of collecting knowledge and providing definitions from a universal perspective. While universalism is frequently attributed to supposedly value-free views held by European researchers and philosophers from the age of Enlightenment onwards, the Virtual Encyclopaedia goes against this notion and strives to capture and reflect concepts’ contested character and context relevance. Rather than unambiguous and all-encompassing definitions, the Virtual Encyclopaedia aims to provide readers with the tools to critically approach the field of peace and conflict studies from the lenses of postcolonial theory and decolonial thought.

In the frame of the Postcolonial Hierarchies’ network, the Encyclopaedia is both an outcome and a process. As an output, it is an open-access platform offering an engaging and critical compendium of crucial theoretical and conceptual debates, empirical analyses, and thorough reflection on methods and knowledge production in the field. It combines text, audio, video, and storytelling across different formats. As a process, the Encyclopaedia builds on the work of the collaborative research network and is envisioned as a long-term endeavour that will evolve gradually. Taking seriously the critique of the coloniality of knowledge advanced by postcolonial scholarship, the process aims to address epistemic hierarchies and inequalities by promoting the inclusion of multiple and diverse voices (in terms of fields, regions, and career stages) and plural perspectives, as well as fostering cooperative networks.

“We write the peace together”   

Artwork: Des-tejiendoMiradas/(Un-) Stitching Gazes     

Artwork: Mural by Alejandro ‘Mono’ Gonzalez in Santiago de Chile
Foto by Fabricio Rodríguez

Structure and classification

A systematic method of organisation or ordering principle is a major element of any encyclopaedia. The Encyclopaedia encompasses multiple ways to classify information in order to facilitate navigability and searchability. The encyclopaedia’s entries are organised alphabetically. Additionally, they are also classified into two interrelated clusters.

The clusters are:

  • Theoretical and conceptual debates: this cluster encompasses the entries about concepts and theories in the field of peace and conflict studies.
  • Methods, knowledge production and dissemination: this cluster features all about knowledge production and dissemination in different areas, from research methods and academic publishing to teaching to practices. It is crucial to address the connections between knowledge production and diffusion and how they shape practice in peace and conflict. Regarding methods, the cluster highlights the relevance of forms of knowledge different from traditional academic practice and out of scholars’ circuits.


The contributions to the Encyclopaedia are selected in collaboration of the contributing authors and the Project Team. The entry’s rationale and structure must follow a set of guidelines. A first draft of each entry is reviewed and commented on by members of the Postcolonial Hierachies in Peace and Conflict Network. Finally, the text is copy edited with the aim to allow for improved legibility and comprehensibility for readers beyond the realm of academia.


Academic community

The Encyclopaedia contributes a collection of theoretical and methodological debates and the breadth of empirical advancements. This work will serve as a guiding reference for scholars and students, at graduate and post-graduate levels, from the different disciplines of social sciences, with an emphasis on the field of peace and conflict studies.


Practitioners and policymakers

An exploration of practice in the field of peace and conflict studies is a central aim of the Virtual Encyclopaedia. The project strives to reach practitioners and policymakers to raise awareness of how knowledge and practices are entangled with the coloniality of power and often contribute to the perpetuation of inequalities and injustices underpinning the (re)production of violence.


Civil society organisations and activists

The Encyclopaedia recognises and includes different forms of knowledge and a plurality of voices beyond academia. Hence, the inclusion of activist and civil society organisations in the collaborative networks at the base of content production processes is crucial. Following the same rationale, these actors constitute one of the target audiences.


Contact us!

For further questions, remarks, ideas or to reach out to collaborate or contribute, please do not hesitate to contact the team.

About the Postcolonial Hierarchies in Peace and Conflict-Network

The network „Postcolonial Hierarchies in Peace and Conflict“ is a collaborative project of the Arnold Bergstraesser Institute (Freiburg), the Center for Conflict Studies at the Philipps University Marburg, the University of Bayreuth, and the University of Erfurt. It is an interdisciplinary research initiative funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).


The network investigates how historically formed postcolonial hierarchies manifest themselves in contemporary conflict dynamics and what implications this has for sustainable conflict transformation in the future. To do so, the network brings together historical perspectives on the contexts of conflict formation (in particular those shaped by colonialism) with postcolonial research perspectives as well as with methodologies and theories of peace and conflict research.

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