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Conference Introduction

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Pushpa IyerFollow

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Middlebury College

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On-campus

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Rehumanizing as Decolonizing: Recentering Peace and Conflict Studies

Pushpa Iyer

Peace and Conflict Studies Journal Conference, November 2022

Decolonization, one could argue, has become a buzzword. Still, there is no doubt that the process has begun in earnest, as witnessed by acts of resistance in politics, society, and economics. These acts of resistance come from a resurgence of attention to growing inequity, lack of inclusiveness, and growing intolerance across many societal divides. The pandemic that has gripped the world for over two years now has only exacerbated these divides and what we witness today are deep divisions, hatred, intolerance, and fear.

As we grapple with resulting identity-based conflicts, I find that many of the traditional concepts and theories of praxis in the field of Peace and Conflict Studies fall short. When conflict issues are redefined through a contextual lens, the field must update its approaches and solutions. A decolonized approach to managing conflicts rooted deeply in identities, values, and belief systems seems to be the right way to find a resolution for the growing inability of individuals, groups, and institutions to communicate across the divide.

Decolonization involves decentering people and institutions who hold power and is understood as a process, not a goal or endpoint. To make the process of decolonization less abstract, we need new tools. Here I draw attention to the word rehumanizing, a verb, the practice of which looks like a process, unlike equity, a noun, which symbolizes a goal. The rehumanizing discourse includes breaking down divisions and building bridges by acknowledging that the “others” we treat as non-humans are human beings after all. Further, this discourse recenters the people and the institutions that have never held power while making their acts of resistance central in the decolonizing process. Rehumanizing as Decolonizing will lead us to recenter the field of peace and conflict studies by making it more relevant and audacious, both significant aspects of decolonization.

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Conference Introduction

Rehumanizing as Decolonizing: Recentering Peace and Conflict Studies

Pushpa Iyer

Peace and Conflict Studies Journal Conference, November 2022

Decolonization, one could argue, has become a buzzword. Still, there is no doubt that the process has begun in earnest, as witnessed by acts of resistance in politics, society, and economics. These acts of resistance come from a resurgence of attention to growing inequity, lack of inclusiveness, and growing intolerance across many societal divides. The pandemic that has gripped the world for over two years now has only exacerbated these divides and what we witness today are deep divisions, hatred, intolerance, and fear.

As we grapple with resulting identity-based conflicts, I find that many of the traditional concepts and theories of praxis in the field of Peace and Conflict Studies fall short. When conflict issues are redefined through a contextual lens, the field must update its approaches and solutions. A decolonized approach to managing conflicts rooted deeply in identities, values, and belief systems seems to be the right way to find a resolution for the growing inability of individuals, groups, and institutions to communicate across the divide.

Decolonization involves decentering people and institutions who hold power and is understood as a process, not a goal or endpoint. To make the process of decolonization less abstract, we need new tools. Here I draw attention to the word rehumanizing, a verb, the practice of which looks like a process, unlike equity, a noun, which symbolizes a goal. The rehumanizing discourse includes breaking down divisions and building bridges by acknowledging that the “others” we treat as non-humans are human beings after all. Further, this discourse recenters the people and the institutions that have never held power while making their acts of resistance central in the decolonizing process. Rehumanizing as Decolonizing will lead us to recenter the field of peace and conflict studies by making it more relevant and audacious, both significant aspects of decolonization.