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Give peace a chance

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Give peace a chance

Professor Richard Jackson wants to place pacifism and non-violence in the forefront of our thinking about the world.

Jackson (National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies) has received a Marsden Fund grant to investigate contemporary pacifism and non-violence. (He explains that pacifism is morally-based non-violence.)

“I am researching why pacifism and non-violence are considered to be naïve and unrealistic, and why knowledge about them is subjugated,” says Jackson, “when they can be highly successful and viable approaches to political reform, and there have been well-documented successes.”

He says that the research includes studying academic literature on pacifism and non-violence, looking at what children are taught, interviewing politicians and defence people, scrutinising media coverage and running focus groups. He says that there will be a particular focus on Māori peace traditions.

“This study will have potential for peace workers seeking to transform violent cultures, indigenous communities seeking to de-subjugate traditional forms of knowledge, and scholars and practitioners seeking to reintroduce pacifism into international politics as a legitimate form of political theory.”

Jackson, a pacifist, says that he would like to see New Zealand get rid of its military forces and become an openly peaceful country, modelled on Costa Rica.

Jackson is undertaking the research with Dr Jeremy Moses (University of Canterbury) and a team of two PhD students and three research assistants.

He expects the three-year project to produce the two PhD theses, a book, various journal articles, and an edited volume of papers from a conference at Otago featuring leading international scholars on pacifism and non-violence.