This article critically examines the extent and nature of engagement with environmental issues within the field of peace research, and specifically with the unfolding ecological crisis (‘the Anthropocene’). A representative sample of journals and book series associated with peace research were analysed in order to a. quantify the extent of engagement with climate change and other environmental issues in peace research, and b. assess the range of discursive positions vis-a-vis the environment represented in the sample. The article finds that, in comparison to other ‘thematic niches’, environmental issues have received limited attention. It also finds that the dominant orientation of publications that do have an environmental focus can be considered ‘reformist’ - largely concerned with or assuming the possibility of significant continuity from the present. More ‘radical’ perspectives are present but in a much lower proportion. Whilst acknowledging the validity of and need for a plurality of perspectives and approaches, it is argued that the scientific evidence of an accelerating and increasingly dangerous ecological crisis does raise challenging questions for peace research. The article concludes with a call for renewed debate on the purpose(s) and assumptions of peace research, informed by a wider range of perspectives on environmental issues. It is a contribution to a tradition of critical reflection within the field but is the first to provide a systematic and grounded analysis of engagement with and perspectives on, the environment within peace research.

Author Bio(s)

Rhys Kelly is a Senior Lecturer in Conflict Resolution in the Division of Peace Studies and International Development, University of Bradford. He leads the MA Advanced Practice in Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution and co-leads the MA Peace, Resilience and Social Justice. His current research focuses on two related topics – community engagement in/for climate adaptation (exploring how to support communities in constructive conversations about difficult adaptation choices), and educational responses to the climate crisis.


peace research, climate change, ecological crisis, Anthropocene, environmental discourse, social cartography

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