How do contemporary political parties envision intergroup relations in South Africa? The visions of political parties are important for peace as these can either mirror or shape people’s views and behavior. The transition from apartheid to democracy was eased by the idea of the Rainbow Nation, which encapsulates a recognition of diversity and a sense of colorblindness whereby South Africa belongs to “all who live in it,” as the preamble to the constitution states. Using the relational peace framework, this chapter contributes to the literature on nation-building by investigating how contemporary political parties (the African National Congress, Democratic Alliance, Economic Freedom Fighters, and Freedom Front Plus) discuss intergroup relations of peace and violent conflict and how they describe a vision of future intergroup relations. Parties based on civic nationalism champion a common identity and aim for a society where ethnicity and race are politically irrelevant. By contrast, both multiculturalism and ethno-nationalism recognize ethnicity as important for intergroup relations. The relational peace framework helps identify which dyads are seen as important in the political party manifestos – who is seen as a legitimate counterpart and who is excluded from discussions related to nation-building and intergroup peace. The assessment of the manifestos using the framework’s elements proves fruitful in capturing the type of nation-building. The analysis of 2019 election manifestos shows a variety of competing visions. These disagreements on who belongs to the South African nation pose a challenge to the legitimacy of the state and peace.
Rebuilding relationships between different actors in societies broken by prolonged social conflict is an important part of peacebuilding. This process is particularly challenging where levels of violence are still high and state security actors continue to occupy a powerful position even after a peace accord is signed. In this difficult transition period between war and peace, military and civilian actors, in the government as well as in civil society and the communities, often struggle with the task of redefining their relationships to each other. Applying the relational peace framework, this chapter looks particularly at how representatives of the military and of different civilian state and non-state actors in post-accord Colombia perceive their relationships to each other today, how they view the military's role in post-accord peacebuilding, and what they identify as challenges to relational peace. The findings, based on field interviews conducted in 2017 and 2018, show significant differences in how the actors assess their interactions, think of each other, and evaluate their current and future relationship. Identified as a peace between agonists characterized by a lack of mutual respect, trust, and cooperation, the interaction between the actors in the dyad shows important obstacles to achieving a higher level of relational peace in the future. In the end, however, friendship might be neither attainable nor desirable as the ultimate form of relational peace for civil–military relations.
Performing relational peace through theater in Sri Lanka
The arts, while still at the outskirts of prevailing debates in politics, have gained increasing interest for possible applications in peacebuilding. Participatory art forms such as theater, dance, and music offer a particularly apt platform to bring adversaries together and build relationships across conflict divisions at an everyday level. Existing literature argues that we need sound empirical studies and conceptual frameworks to understand the process of arts-based peacebuilding. To address this call, the chapter uses the relational peace framework to explore the peacebuilding practice of the Sri Lankan theater group Jana Karaliya. Jana Karaliya was established in 2002 as a multiethnic, bilingual, mobile theater group. The chapter focuses on the group’s Tamil and Sinhala members and the ways in which their interpersonal relations shift across foes, fellows, and friends over time, during the course of their work. The chapter draws from participant observation, focus group interviews with longstanding members of the group, and individual interviews with selected members, and further benefits from insights gathered through continued engagement with the group since 2007. Applying the relational peace framework enables us to see how relations within Jana Karaliya transform because of their sustained interaction and shared vision of performing peace, amid changing phases of the Sri Lankan conflict. The chapter is rigorous in its empirical investigation and application of the framework. It makes a significant and an original contribution to arts-based peacebuilding by illustrating how we can map relational transitions that take place in long-term participatory arts-based peacebuilding initiatives.
Conceptualizing and studying relational peace practices
The main motivation behind the book is to identify tools with which we can empirically study peace beyond the absence of war. Our approach is to study relational peace practices. This chapter provides an overview of the structure and content of the edited volume, which as a whole analyzes relational peace in several sites, including Cyprus, Cambodia, South Africa, Abkhazia, Transnistria/Russia, Colombia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Myanmar. Each chapter makes its own unique contribution to specific literatures related to its field, including civil–military relations, frozen peacebuilding, peace- and nation-building, negotiation and mediation literatures, arts-based peacebuilding initiatives, post-war elite studies, ideational analysis, and post-Soviet studies and everyday peace. The introductory chapter develops the theoretical framework for studying relational peace, which serves as a basis for the case studies. Relational peace entails non-domination, deliberation, and cooperation between the actors in the dyad; moreover, the actors involved must recognize and trust each other, and their idea of the relationship should be one between fellows or an expression of friendship. The chapter introduces some of the methodological implications of studying peace in this manner. The edited volume as a whole demonstrates how the framework can be applied to different types of cases and across different dyads in different geographical locations, levels of analysis, stages of peace processes, and types of actor dyads. It suggests that the most fruitful analysis can be conducted when the framework is used as analytical tool for assessing how relationships evolve and comparing shifts over time or across dyads or cases.
The continuity of elites after war remains the norm despite efforts and recommendations to remove them. In order to better understand how peace develops, it is thus essential to pay attention to warring elites who take on prominent roles in post-war politics. This chapter examines the degree of relational peace in the case of Cambodia, where a peace process was initiated in the 1990s. This case is thus particularly useful if we want to understand the development of peace in the long run. Cambodia is an extreme case in terms of elite continuity, and is often categorized as a hybrid peace case. This chapter moves beyond that categorization by examining a range of signatories to peace agreements and their relations with their counterparts in the peace agreement from the time the agreement was signed until April 2018. It examines the political relationship among the domestic peace signatories of the Paris Peace Accords (October 23, 1991) over twenty-six years in Cambodia. It draws on content analysis of newspaper articles where signatories are mentioned in order to study how elite relations across a previously antagonistic divide have developed. The focus on newspaper articles inherently means a focus on the public role and statements of elites, as these internal elites shape both macro-politics and public opinion. Many years after signing the peace agreement, there are still reasons for concern. Overall, the main relationship is characterized by domination, distrust, and ideas of dependency.
This book contributes to scholarly debates about what peace is and how it can be studied by developing a novel framework and tools for studying peace as relational. Drawing primarily on peace and conflict research and sociology, it defines relational peace as entailing non-domination, deliberation, and cooperation between actors in a dyad, that the actors recognize and trust each other, and that they conceive their relationship as one between fellows or friends. The book provides tools for empirical studies of relational peace and applies the framework in several sites: Cyprus, Cambodia, South Africa, Abkhazia, Transnistria/Russia, Colombia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Myanmar. It shows how the framework can be applied across cases, actors, geographical locations, levels of analysis, types of data, and stages of peace processes. The book offers guidance on how to use the framework empirically with a variety of methods. Each case study in the book also makes unique contributions to specific literatures, such as civil–military relations, frozen peacebuilding, nation-building, mediation, arts-based peacebuilding initiatives, post-war elite studies, ideational analysis, and post-Soviet studies and everyday peace. The book offers nuanced understandings of peace in particular settings and illustrates the multifaceted nature of peaceful relations. It shows how relationships are formed though repeated interactions, exchanges, and practices. The book also demonstrates that studying how actors understand these relationships is key for analyzing the nature of peace and its dynamic and processual character. By depicting relational peace practices, the book expands the field of studying peace beyond the absence of war.
The final chapter draws theoretical and comparative conclusions based on the case studies in the book. The relational approach contributes to a more nuanced understanding of peace beyond the absence of war by recognizing peace as a web of multiple interactions across time, space, and levels. The chapter discusses the advantages and challenges for studying peace as relational and the implications of this approach for theory, methodology, and policy. Relational peace practices need to be studied in an actor-centric and processual way, as it is the repeated interactions between actors that over time establish the practices of the relationship. The concluding chapter also addresses some of the methodological consequences and tradeoffs as identified throughout the book, particularly those related to delimiting actors, distinguishing appropriate data and sources for use when studying processes over time. The empirical study of relational peace allows us to see the varied practices of interactions, for instance, as well as the range of attitudes and ideas that relations are imbued with. It also helps us identify important future visions of the relationship, which can be important for the overall understanding and assessment of relational peace as well as for what is needed for peace to deepen. Importantly, the framework can be applied at different levels of analysis and allows us to identify changes in relationships and how relationships evolve over time. The chapter ends with some implications for policy and some suggestions of future avenues of research.
To the extent that ideas can be seen as guides for action we must identify, interpret, and understand those that shape peace. This chapter aims to use the behavioral, subjective, and ideational elements of relational peace outlined in the Introduction of this volume in an analysis of Russian ideas about peace. With its global influence on the rise, more knowledge about how Russia understands peace and peacekeeping has been called for. We operationalize the elements of relational peace in an ideational analysis of open sources in the Russian language and ask to what extent Russian ideas about peace reflect a relational view. A cross-section of governmental, academic, and other written sources are analyzed and described, providing insight into the current ideational patterns and linkages dominating public discourse in Russia. Particular attention is given to Russian peacekeeping in Transnistria and Abkhazia, where Russia was a key actor in endeavors to put an end to hostilities in the early 1990s. The text contributes to post-Soviet studies with an in-depth analysis of how Russian ideas about peace flow from politically enabling and fundamental carrier ideas.
The longstanding political dispute in Cyprus is routinely understood in terms of negative peace. The island has been free of armed conflict since 1974, even while the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities remain divided. But how useful is this conceptualization given a half-century of failed peace plans? This chapter applies the relational peace framework to develop an alternative understanding of Europe’s oldest unresolved political conflict. It primarily traces variation in the behavioral interactions, subjective attitudes, and ideas of relationship of the political elites in the Greek Cypriot community and between Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders. The analysis employs between-methods triangulation to increase reliability and reduce researcher bias. Data are drawn from diverse primary and secondary sources, including historical records, public opinion surveys, policy reports, and English-language news sources. A relational view of peace has important implications for both preventing renewed violence on the island and resolving the Cyprus problem. It highlights considerable variation within Greek Cypriot society, an issue overlooked by a negative peace framework. Attention to this within-group competition and cooperation demonstrates that the Cyprus conflict is less static than past analyses suggest. The relational peace framework further brings to light an asymmetry between intercommunal and intracommunal relations. Efforts to advance the former are often undermined and exacerbated by within-group differences. Finally, the chapter shifts the analytic lens away from ethnonationalism and foreign interests to the strategic preferences and behaviors of each community. This underscores how peace on the island is difficult to achieve while within-group competition remains high.
Relational peace and local experiences of the state in Myanmar
Between 2011 and 2021, political reforms and renewed peace efforts significantly reduced violence in many of Myanmar’s conflict-affected regions. Despite this, people living in these areas did not agree that they enjoyed peace; rather, this period is described as a continuation of the war’s many injustices, marked by discrimination, marginalization, and fear. This chapter argues that a relational analysis of peace can enable us to make sense of this gap between drastically different assessments of peace and conflict. The analysis draws on focus group discussions, interviews, and participant observation with local civilians, civil society activists, and members of non-state armed groups conducted in 2019 in two regions, Kayah and Mon States. A relational perspective uncovers the fact that the fundamental logics of key conflict relationships, between the Myanmar state and ethnic minority groups and communities, have not been transformed by the peace process but instead manifest themselves in new ways, whereby armed violence has been replaced by other forms of domination, underpinned by inequality, non-recognition, and distrust. Exploring these relational dynamics enables us to pinpoint areas and issues that prevent the emergence of a sustainable and legitimate peace, and demonstrate the importance of relational aspects for people’s experiences of everyday peace.