A workshop titled Pacifism and Nonviolence: Cultivating a New Research Agenda, with the support of the ECPR Standing Group on Mobilisation and Participation, takes place at the ECPR’s online Joint Sessions between 19 and 22 April: https://ecpr.eu/Events/Event/PanelDetails/11336.
The process to propose papers is explained on the website. The deadline is 2 February.
Pacifism and Nonviolence: Cultivating a New Research Agenda
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.