Why does Peace and Conflict Studies need to be decolonised? What are the key theoretical moves that are needed? And what does decolonising academic work mean in practice? In this lecture I argue that the emancipatory and humanist roots of peace and conflict studies are an important resource for the thought and practice of ‘decolonising’ our modes of study, but will remain inadequate unless attached to a confrontation with coloniality and Eurocentrism in social theory and in the conduct of research. On the one hand, this means interrogating a range of assumptions and narratives about environments in which there is violent conflict and the assumed norms from which they deviate. On the other, it requires a methodological re-orientation of the researcher to ‘study up’ from a particular site of conflict or intervention. Important aspects of this include the need to read such sites through their historical presence, to engage with varied political subjectivities and to contemplate the implications of the material conditions in a way which incorporates all actors, including interveners. However, it also needs a frank reckoning with the political idea of ‘Europe’ as defined by co-ordinates which are heavily racialized and colonial, whilst ostensibly ‘normative’ and ‘liberal’. In maintaining more critical distance from institutions of political power, it is possible for Peace and Conflict Studies to fundamentally re-think what it means to have a decolonising humanist orientation.
AFK-EuPRA Keynote: Meera Sabaratnam: Decolonising Peace and Conflict Studies