This Special Issue of Peace and Conflict Studies focuses on the power dynamics that drive participants of protracted violent conflicts. Such dynamics undergird every act of brute force by militants of such conflicts, every state policy that diminishes the lives and life prospects of marginalized people, and every public speech by a political leader that degrades a segment of the population as inferior, dangerous or impure. Despite the ubiquity of power to violent conflicts generally, this subject matter lacks primacy as a central topic of prevailing conflict theories. Power is cast tacitly as secondary to the cardinal categories of violence, conflict and peacebuilding. This subordinate positioning is mistaken. A robust understanding of protracted violent conflicts requires attending to power’s complexity, its many forms, and its inseparability in the interactions and potential transformation of conflict actors.

Author Bio(s)

Daniel Rothbart is professor of conflict analysis and resolution at the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, George Mason University. He specializes in prevention of mass violence, ethnic conflicts, power and conflict, the ethics of conflict resolution, civilians in war and the psycho-politics of conflict. He currently serves as co-director of the Program on Prevention of Mass Violence. Professor Rothbart’s academic writings include more than fifty articles and chapters in scholarly journals and books. Among his ten authored or edited books, his recent publications include the following books: State Domination and the Psycho-Politics of Conflict (2019); Systemic Humiliation in America: Fighting for Dignity within Systems of Degradation (2018). He is currently exploring the intersection of power, psychology and conflict. Professor Rothbart received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Washington University, St. Louis, and taught in the department of philosophy at GMU. He also held positions as visiting research scholar at Linacre College, Oxford, University of Cambridge and Dartmouth College.


power and conflict, power dynamics, state power

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