Conflicting Peaces: Engaging with Diversities in Friction

By Florencia Benitez-Schaefer, Shawn Bryant, Catalina Vallejo and Noah Taylor.

Published by The International Journal of Community Diversity

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

While the central question of diversity has often been how to live in peace with difference, we approach the question — what happens when diversity also involves conflicting approaches to peace? This paper contains the authors’ reflections on the colloquium with the same title held in the On Diversity Conference 2012 in Vancouver, where the authors and participants explored peace itself as an expression of diversity. We argue that an attempt to answer this question requires a change in focus; if there is no longer a unifying peace, how can we engage with diversity in a plurality of conflicting peaces? Mainstream peace and conflict studies literature understands conflict as opposite to peace. Supported in contemporary critical research, we argue that the concept of peace rather than being perfect, absolute and pure is in fact impure, diverse, and conflictive. Hence, an understanding of peace that attempts to embrace diversity will necessarily be relational, include conflict and engage with it, in contrast to silencing it or suppressing it. We argue that instead of being its opposite, conflict is in fact an essential component of peace. To elaborate on the argument, we deal with two of the possible interpretations of peace in history and culture: peace linked to security, understood as the eradication of threats from others and therefore recurring to ideals of perfection and homogeneity; and peace as an experience of harmony, highlighting mystical or musical harmony, which, far from being pure, emerges also out of conflicting tones. We conclude that both in traditions of mysticism and in security politics, diversities in friction lie at the core of experiencing and conceptualizing peace.

Keywords: Plurality of Peaces, Conflict Transformation, Diversity, Security, Violence, Mysticism, Harmony

The International Journal of Community Diversity, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp.49-60. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 454.035KB).

Dr. Florencia Benitez-Schaefer

Doctoral Fellow, Doctoral Research Group "The Real in the Culture of Modernity", University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Argentine-German jurist and core faculty member at the UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies’ MA programme in Peace, Development, Security and International Conflict Transformation at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. She has participated in various initiatives connecting law and cultural theory, e.g. with the International Investigation Center for Cultural Studies (IFK Vienna) and a DFG-Research Group at the University of Konstanz and published various articles on this field. Her main focus of interest lies on new approaches to social conflict transformation, particularly through scenic arts. In this line, she is currently coordinating and working with the international collective ‘Arte y Paz’.

Shawn Bryant

Doctoral Candidate, Department of Peace, Conflict and Development Studies, Universitat Jaume I, Konstanz, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Shawn Bryant hails from Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada and has studied Icelandic language at the University of Iceland. He holds two Master’s degrees in peace studies from the UN mandated University for Peace, Costa Rica and the University of Innsbruck, Austria. He is currently working on his doctoral dissertation in Peace, Conflict and Development Studies from the Universitat Jaume I in Castelló, Spain. His areas of research include pedagogy, theatre, economics, and transrational philosophy.

Catalina Vallejo

Research Assistant, Cluster in Rights and Legal Institutions, Christian Michelsen Institute, Bergen, Hordaland, Norway

Catalina Vallejo is a Lawyer from the Universidad Autónoma Latinoamericana (Medellín, Colombia) with a particular focus on public law, and MA in Peace Studies from Universität Innsbruck (Austria). Has worked for the Colombian public sector in projects related to land management, urban planning and human rights. Currently collaborates with the Chr. Michelsen Institute (Bergen, Norway) in various research projects with regional focus on Latin America, including studies on transitional justice, civilian-military relationships, and climate change lawfare. Author of Plurality of peaces in legal action: Analyzing constitutional objections to military service in Colombia (2012).

Noah Taylor

PhD Candidate, Department of International Peace, Conflict and Development Studies, Universitat Jaume I, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, USA

PhD Candidate at the Universitate Jaume I in Spain in International Peace Studies, he has also worked as a seminar leader for a Norwegian Peace and Conflict Studies Program held in Pondicherry, India. Currently researching the connections between Mysticism and Conflict Transformation, he is paying particular attention to the roles of narratives and the influence of spiritual experiences in understandings of peace and conflict in order to understand their role in transforming violent conflict. He is currently the Academic Director of Applied Conflict Transformation at the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies in Siem Reap, Cambodia.