Through multiple disciplinary perspectives, this seminar explores three broad processes - governance, identity, and war – that shape much of contemporary peace and conflict studies. How does governance work at the global level and, in particular, what role do institutions play? Are international organizations (sometimes) a force for good, or (mostly) ineffectual 'talk shops'? We see an ever-growing amount of international human-rights lawmaking, yet horrific abuses of such rights continue. Why?
Regarding identity, you and I have one. States have identities. Regions have identities. Identities establish boundaries and markers ('this is who we are!'), and create senses of shared community. But how does identity matter in shaping political outcomes? When does it lead to violence – genocide or ethnic conflict, say? When is it benign? It has become a commonplace to talk of a European identity, and to see it as force for good. Yet both Brexit and the current refugee crisis suggest it may be weaker than many suspect.
Finally, international wars – that is, a war between two states – seem to be a relic of the past. Yet, sadly, organized violence persists; however, it is now most often an instance of civil war. How do we explain the origins and duration of such wars? Why do civil wars vary so markedly in the degree and type of violence they employ? Why do some rebel groups engage in horrific acts of sexual violence while others do not? What – if anything - can the international community do to mitigate the worst effects of such conflicts?
We will explore these issues through a careful reading of major works by political scientists, economists, sociologists, and institutional theorists, among others. These will be supplemented with articles and chapters that provide critical context and backround.
Full course description and registration available March 2017.