The following paper co-authored by Johanna Söderström was presented at the 2018 Swedish National Conference on Peace and Conflict Research. The conference was arranged by Lund University.
“Friends, Fellows and Foes: A new framework for studying relational peace”
Johanna Söderström, Malin Åkebo, Anna Jarstad
Much research on peace conceives of peace as a situation or a condition in a state or society. When agency enters this literature it is often when peacebuilding or resistance toward certain forms of peacebuilding are discussed. The role of agency and specific actors, and their relations in turn is often not part of the literature which describes what peace is. In this paper we suggest that taking a relational view of peace serious, can be a fruitful avenue for expanding current theoretical frameworks surrounding peace as a concept. In order to pave the way for such an approach this paper conducts a review of the literature which takes on peace as a relational concept. We then return to how a relationship is conceptualized, before turning to how such components would be further defined in order to specify relational peace. Based on this framework, we argue that a peaceful relation entails non-domination, deliberation and cooperation between the actors in the dyad, the actors involved recognize and trust each other and believe that the relationship is one between legitimate partners and ultimately an expression of friendship. It clarifies the methodological implications of studying peace in this manner. It also demonstrates some of the advantages of this approach. For instance if we regard peace as a relationship between actors at different levels of society peace and war become a web of multiple interactions, and it becomes clear how peace and war can co-exist, rather than be two mutually exclusive categories. The paper clarifies the importance of studying relations, and how actors understand these relationships, as a way of studying varieties of peace.
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