The cultural turn in peace research: Prospects and challenges

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The local turn in peace research emphasises the crucial role of cultural context and culturally determined conceptualisations of conflict, security and peace. It emerged as a critique of the liberal peace paradigm that promotes a happy alliance of democracy, economic development and peace. However, an epistemological turn towards culture has not yet taken place due to long-standing solutionist and quantitative traditions, but also due to the difficulties dominant peace and conflict studies disciplines have in conceptualising the local and culture. Drawing on lessons learned from previous cultural turns in conflict and peace theory such as ADR, traditional justice and HTS, the article argues for a twofold cultural turn in peace studies, with regard to (1) the repositioning of culture and anthropology and (2) the need for a change in the research culture of peace studies that will take anthropologists on board as equal partners.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-33
Number of pages17
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Local turn in peace research
  • ethnography
  • anthropology
  • methodology
  • cultural turn
  • culture

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