Coloniality of Peace

Is there a universal peace? Historical and ongoing confrontations across the globe lay bare the bias of peace discourses: what peace is to one, can be oppression to another. In the light of this experience, activists and academics from the Global South have raised the issue of the coloniality of peace. The term describes how appeals to peace can be complicit with coloniality by supporting and reinforcing modern/colonial purposes of domination, control, and extraction, among others. To provide analytical tools to identify the coloniality of peace, this contribution builds on a range of critiques of ‘peace’ that have been enunciated from post- and decolonial stances.

Peace in the Anthropocene

The interlinked climate, pollution and biodiversity crises are increasingly becoming the subject of peace and conflict studies and are playing an important role in peace work and conflict transformation through approaches such as environmental peacebuilding. In the context of societal relationships with nature in colonial modernity, however, the relationships between humans and the environment are usually only questioned in terms of their benefits, or in terms of their potential for causing or exacerbating conflicts and their consequences for humans.

Epistemic Violence

Coined by Gayatri Spivak at the end of the so-called Cold War, the concept of epistemic violence is today a powerful tool of analysis and critique. It draws our attention to the cognitive and epistemic infrastructure of what we believe to know about the world, including about (non-)violence, conflict, war – and peace. Taking epistemic violence into account has the potential of changing the entire research agenda of Peace and Conflict Studies, because it invites us to re- and unthink violence from a groundbreaking perspective: the Euro- and androcentrist nature of our knowledge (and our ignorance) that is grounded in the sustaining colonial condition of the world – and vice versa.

Pluriversal peacebuilding

Pluriversality is a concept from decolonial theory that names the existence of irreducibly plural ways of knowing and being that connect people to one another and to the world(s) around them. Decolonial theory reveals how modern Eurocentric epistemologies support their claims to universality by eradicating resources for imagining and enacting alternatives to a world structured according to the racialized, gendered, territorialized, and capitalist logics of modernity.

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