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Rethinking Pacifism for Revolution, Security and Politics

Wednesday 22 - Friday 24 November, 2017, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

View presentations on YouTube
Conference follow up
About the Conference
Keynote speakers
Abstracts and full papers

YouTube presentations

Revolutionary Nonviolence: The case of the Zapatistas  Professor Stellan Vinthagen
Eradicating Warism, our most dangerous disease Professor Duane Cady
Wrestling with another human being: the merits of a messy, power-laden pacifism Dr Molly Wallace
Pacifism and Revolution Professor Richard Jackson
Towards a pacifist state? Keynote roundtable

Conference follow-up

Thanks to everyone who participated and made this an excellent event.

Recorded presentations are now being uploaded to a dedicated YouTube channel.

Further announcements will be made about publications from the conference materials.  Revised papers can be resubmitted to Professor Richard Jackson by 12 Januayr 2018. Please email to

What can a new engagement with pacifism offer in the face of global challenges?

For the greater part of the past century, pacifism has occupied a marginal place in international relations scholarship, politics, activism, media, and the wider society. Pacifism is rarely used as the basis for normative theorising about the use of force, and is rarely drawn upon as an important source for thinking about resistance, revolution, security, counterterrorism, peacebuilding, national defence planning, humanitarian intervention, political institutions, and the like. In part, this is due to the persistence of a number of key misconceptions, including that pacifism represents a single homogenous position which rejects any and all forms of force and violence, that pacifism involves inaction in the face of injustice, that it is politically naïve about the reality of evil, and that it is dangerous because it invites aggression. Other important misconceptions revolve around the nature of violence and force, and its purported utility and necessity for engendering political change, civilian protection, and securing politics in the state. The marginal position of pacifism is a puzzling state of affairs, given the noted insights and advantages of pacifist theory in relation to dominant IR theories and popular beliefs, and to recent robust empirical findings documenting the success and positive effects of nonviolent movements compared to violent movements.

This conference will explore what a new engagement with pacifism can offer to theories of revolution, practices of resistance, security policy and civilian protection, counterterrorism policy, political philosophy and democratic theory, state-building, peacebuilding, social justice movements, and other aspects of politics. Specifically, it will ask the question: To what extent, and under what conditions and circumstances, can pacifism offer theoretical and practical guidance in helping us to face the global challenges of war and militarism, terrorism and insurgency, rising wealth inequality, dispossession and colonialism, social injustice and oppression, political institutional unresponsiveness, and looming environmental catastrophe, among others? An important theme of the conference will explore what indigenous pacifist traditions have to teach Western political philosophy and international relations theory.

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Keynote speakers

  • Professor Stellan Vinthagen, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
    Revolutionary Nonviolence: The case of the Zapatistas
    Dr. Stellan Vinthagen is Professor of Sociology, and the Inaugural Endowed Chair in the Study of Nonviolent Direct Action and Civil Resistance at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he directs the Resistance Studies Initiative. He is Editor of the Journal of Resistance Studies, and Co-Leader of the Resistance Studies Group at University of Gothenburg, Sweden. He has since 1980 been an educator, organizer and activist, participating in numerous nonviolent civil disobedience actions, for which he has served a total of more than one year in prison. One of his books is A Theory of Nonviolent Action - How Civil Resistance Works (2015).
  • Professor Duane Cady, Hamline Univeristy, Minnesota
        Read the full paper here Eradicating Warism, our most dangerous disease
    Duane L. Cady is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. He earned his A.M and Ph.D. degrees from Brown University. He is author of From Warism to Pacifism: A Moral Continuum (1989; 2nd ed. 2010) and Moral Vision: How Everyday Life Shapes Ethical Thinking (2005), co-author of Humanitarian Intervention: Just War vs. Pacifism (1996), and editor of three anthologies. He has published more than fifty articles on ethics, history of philosophy, and nonviolence. Professor Cady has been recognized locally and nationally for excellent teaching. He has been a Visiting Scholar at Westminster College, Oxford University, UK (1988), and Visiting Professor at Trier University in Germany (2004). He has given the Virginia Geiger Lecture in Ethics and Society (College of Notre Dame of Maryland, 1994), the Henkels Lecture in International Relations (University of Notre Dame, 1996), the Royal Alsworth Lecture in Humanities (University of Minnesota, 2011) and the Paul Robert and Jean Shuman Hanna Lectures in Philosophy (Hamline University, 2012). He is a past President of Concerned Philosophers for Peace and served six years on the National Council of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the world’s oldest and largest pacifist organization. Dr. Cady is married, and has two grown children plus two growing grandchildren In addition to philosophy and pacifism he enjoys Dixieland jazz, nature, refugee resettlement, art, and travel.
  • Dr Molly Wallace Portland State University and the War Prevention Initiative
         Read the full paper here Wrestling with another human being: the merits of a messy, power-laden pacifism
    Molly Wallace is a visiting scholar in Portland State University’s Conflict Resolution Program and contributing editor of the Peace Science Digest at the War Prevention Initiative. Previously, she taught in the International Affairs and Political Science Programs at the University of New Hampshire and Brown University. Dr Wallace earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Political Science from Brown University and her B.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies from Mount Holyoke College. Her recent book, Security without Weapons: Rethinking Violence, Nonviolent Action, and Civilian Protection, explores nonviolent alternatives for civilian protection in war zones—and particularly the unarmed civilian peacekeeping work of Nonviolent Peaceforce in Sri Lanka. Selected current research interests include military desertion/defection and the protective effects of unarmed versus armed resistance movements.

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The programme for the conference is available here.  Please note that due to some keynote unavailability, the programme has been amended.

Abstracts and full papers

Full papers are indicated by link under the name of the paper. A link to author name only indicates abstract not full paper.

Iain Atack: Pacifism, Anarchism and the Critique of State Violence
Zaeem Baksh: The Critique of Violence and its Implications for Pacifist Theory
Philippa Barnes: Nonviolence and (de)legitimacy: BDS and the formal Palestinian political process
Timothy Bryar: Rethinking Structural Violence Transformation: Bartleby meets Galtung
Monica Carrer: ‘Everyone wants peace’: everyday pacifist responses to violent conflict and structural violence
Richard Davis: Jacques Ellul's Nonviolent Christian Revolution: A Reappraisal
Grant Dawson: Necessary, Legal, and Right? The United Kingdom and the Libya intervention of 2011
Caleb Day: How Martin Luther King, Jr’s Pacifist Liberation Theology Makes Reinhold Niebuhr’s Political Realism Possible
Paul Duffill: Examining how indigenous pacifist traditions might support conditions for effective peacebuilding in the context of Israel-Palestine
Anaru Eketone: Wiremu Patene and the Peace Movement at Karakariki
Kieran Ford: A Pacifist Perspective on Countering Extremism
Edwina Hughes: Pacifism or militarism: the life or death choice for people and the planet?
Richard Jackson: Pacifism and Revolution
Maija Jesperson: Is “War of Everyman against Everyman” the State of Nature?: An Evidentiary and Philosophical Inquiry
Tonga Karena: Reclaiming the role of rongo: The pacifist traditions of Parihaka
Tim Leadbeater: The Dunedin lawyer's seed of dissent: A.R. Barclay, the Boer war and the socialist origins of Archibald Baxter's pacfism
SungYong Lee: Nonviolent resistance of the Buddhist Sangha in Contemporary Cambodia
Joe Llewellyn: Listen, Leftist! Violence is not Revolutionary
Joe Llewellyn and Griffin Leonard: A Case for the Abolition of the New Zealand Defence Force: Meeting Challenges to Creating a Peaceful World and Peaceful Aotearoa New Zealand Without the Use of Violence

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Isabel McIntosh: Cultural Confrontation: The Urewera Mural and Indigenous Resistance
Isabel McIntosh: Media as resistance: Disrupting and shifting power
Jeremy Moses: Why Humanitarianism Needs a Pacifist Ethos
Holly Frieda O'Connor: Passive resistance as a form of historical justice and reparation in Peru
Murray Rae: In defence of a non-pragmatic pacifism
Liz Remmerswaal: Peace witness in a time of endless war
Ingvar Ronnback: Beyond Marginalization of Pacifism and Nonviolence
Astrid Simonsen: Pacifism and the nonviolent rebellion
Gray Southon: New Zealand Experiences in Collective and Common Security: Opportunities for the Future: A discussion paper
Steven Steyl: What Can Virtue Ethics Offer Pacifists?
David Tombs: Archibald Baxter’s Christian Faith and Conscientious Objection
Nirmali Wijegoonawardana: Legitimate Social Change and Metaphysical Nonviolence

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