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Pacifism and Nonviolence in International Relations

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

PhD applicants are sought for study in Dunedin, New Zealand, to start as soon as possible. Applicants with strong academic records can apply for fully-funded scholarships from the University of Otago.

This project examines important aspects related to the role and subjugation of pacifism and nonviolence in international relations. It begins from the observation that pacifism and nonviolence occupies a marginal place in the mainstream of IR scholarship. It is very rarely the basis for normative theorising about the use of force, and is rarely drawn upon as a theoretical resource for thinking about issues related to security, terrorism, peacebuilding, national defence planning, humanitarian intervention, political institutions, war, international ethics, just war theory, 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 is politically naïve, and that it is dangerous because it projects weakness. Other misconceptions revolve around the utility and necessity of force for civilian protection, and the nature of anarchy which purportedly requires defensive capabilities. This marginal position is a puzzling state of affairs, given the noted insights and advantages of pacifist theory in relation to dominant IR theories, and to recent robust empirical findings documenting the success and positive effects of nonviolent movements compared to violent movements.

The project aims to engender a rethinking of the marginalisation of pacifism and nonviolence in IR by outlining the intellectual case for pacifism, exploring some of the varieties of pacifism, analysing the ways in which pacifism is subjugated in IR, and examining some of the ways in which pacifism can contribute to discussions about security, terrorism, peacebuilding, civilian protection, ethics and war, among others. Candidates with a proposal related to any of these themes are encouraged to apply. In particular, candidates with a project exploring nonviolent responses to terrorism are very welcome.

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