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Postcolonial Hierarchies in Peace and Conflict

Logo Research Project Postcolonial Hierarchies

The Network „Postcolonial Hierarchies in Peace and Conflict“ is a collaborative project of the Arnold Bergstraesser Institute (Freiburg), the Center for Conflict Studies at the Philipps University Marburg, the University of Bayreuth, and the University of Erfurt. It is an interdisciplinary research initiative funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

The Network investigates how historically formed postcolonial hierarchies manifest themselves in contemporary conflict dynamics and what implications this has for sustainable conflict transformation in the future. To do so, the Network brings together historical perspectives on the contexts of conflict formation (in particular those shaped by colonialism) with postcolonial research perspectives as well as with methodologies and theories of peace and conflict research.

Research Questions

The Network focuses on three research questions:

  • What role do historically generated postcolonial hierarchies play in contemporary conflict dynamics?
  • How do postcolonial hierarchies persist in contemporary concepts and practices of reducing violence, of peacebuilding and of conflict management? How can these be overcome with the aim of achieving sustainable peace?
  • How do postcolonial hierarchies manifest themselves in epistemologies and knowledge production in peace and conflict studies? How can peace and conflict research contribute to a transformation of such hierarchies?

These questions will be explored along three main research foci, namely (a) the dynamics of violence, (b) security governance and peacebuilding, and (c) transformative justice.

Although the members of the Network work on a broad range of geographical areas, utilizing different methodological and theoretical perspectives, there are underlying themes that unite them. To allow for exchange within common thematic areas of expertise, the members of the Network research within WorkPackages with corresponding Sub-Packages. These are: (1) WorkPackage on Violence, with Sub-Packages: Asymmetries in Epistemic Violence; Urban/Rural Hierarchies for Protest; Gender Violence; (2) WorkPackage on Security, with Sub-Packages: Dominant and Alternative Conceptualisations of Security; Historically Rooted Colonial Hierarchies; Domestic Hierarchies in Postcolonial States; Hierarchies in Developmental and Humanitarian Projects; and (3) WorkPackage on Justice, with Sub-Packages: Gendered Justice; Global Justice; Dominant and Alternative Forms of Justice.

Every WorkPackage has members of different institutions, as well as a balanced representation of researchers at different stages of their careers (both senior and early-career researchers) which allows for synergies, cooperation, and knowledge exchange. The Network’s members discuss their ongoing research within WorkPackages when they meet for ThinkLab, as well as online throughout the year. To learn more about individual projects of the Network’s members, please visit our People page. 

Please find the link to the entire project here


Webmaster: Dr. Jane Ayeko-Kümmeth

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