European Network of Peace Historians

European Network of Peace Historians

University of Sheffield ()
Ort des Projektträgers
Vom - Bis
30.06.2008 -
Benjamin Ziemann, University of Sheffield, Department of History

European Network of Peace Historians


We propose the foundation of a European Network of Peace Historians which would be open to both individuals and institutions from all European countries as well as from other parts of the world. The general aims of the network will be: to facilitate and organise intellectual exchange on historical peace research; to increase the visibility of peace history; to support individuals and groups who want to organise workshops and conferences in this field; to foster postgraduate work on peace history, and to support teaching publications in this field; to lend its name and connections to research grant applications in the field of peace history; and to facilitate and support relevant publications.

The network will be based on a wide definition of peace history or historical peace research that includes at least seven distinctive fields: the history of pacifism, peace movements, anti-militarism and non-violent direct action; the history of non-violent conflict resolution and of peace-building after violent conflicts, both at the level of foreign relations and within societies and nation-states; the significance of gender roles, gender conflicts and gendered images for the history of conflicts, non-violent conflict resolution and peace movements; the history of armaments and arms control; the history of internationalism and international organisations, both governmental and nongovernmental; the history of collective violence in the perspective of opportunities for non-violence; and the study of images and concepts of peace in the past. The network will not be based on any academic or political definition of ‘peace’, and will therefore not exclude anyone on the grounds of differing analytical viewpoints or personal convictions. The network is not only directed at historians: literary scholars, art historians, sociologists and political scientists who do research on aspects of the history of non-violence are invited to become members and to engage in interdisciplinary discussions.


As a network, the group will not form an organisation of its own and will not raise any membership fees. It will rather aim to help its members to establish contacts, to exchange ideas and to organise activities of all kinds, using the connections and relying on the name and the public ‘address’ of the network. The network will aim to organise a venue for the face-to-face exchange and discussion of ideas, either through the organisation of conferences on its behalf, or through the organisation of thematic panels in the context of other European history conferences. During the foundational stage, the network will also invite major relevant institutions (university departments of peace studies, research institutes, archives and libraries working on the history of peace and non-violence, as well as peace museums) in various countries either to become members of the network or, where their institutional regulations do not allow this, to name full-time staff members who could work as liaisons in the respective country. The network will also seek to establish a close cooperation with the Peace History Society in the USA, the Arbeitskreis Historische Friedensforschung in the Federal Republic and with the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) and its Peace History Commission (PHC).

The internal structure of the network would need to be determined by its founding members. The network should perhaps elect a chairperson and a vice-chairperson for a three-year term in order to increase the visibility of the network, allow for accountability, and channel incoming enquiries. The chairs would have a special responsibility for co-ordinating and managing the network as well as gather and channel proposals for new initiatives. They would also handle applications. Brief statutes should spell out the aims and structures of the network. One of the founding institutional partners of the network should be asked to take on the responsibility for the servicing of membership lists and the webpage of the network.


Peace History as an academic current emerged in the course of the 1960s in the United States, when it sought to bring together diplomatic and international historians with historically-interested political scientists and historians of organised pacifism. While there are several peace research institutes and while a Peace History Society exists in the USA, the discipline has been institutionalised outside the US only in the Federal Republic of Germany, where the ‘Association for Historical Peace Research’ (Arbeitskreis Historische Friedensforschung) was founded in 1984. Currently, major collective research projects on the traditions of non-violent conflict resolution are under way in Denmark, Italy and Norway, and there are historians with an interest in the history of peace and non-violence in many European countries. Moreover, for the first time, in the countries which were part of the Soviet bloc, it has become possible to gain access to archives, and to research topics, which previously were out of bounds ('bourgeois pacifism').

We propose to found a network of European peace historians for three main reasons. First, from an academic perspective, new research topics have emerged. The end of the bloc confrontation and the inclusion of many Eastern European countries into the European Union, for example, makes the historical analysis of non-aligned peace-movements during the Cold War and of related issues in the histories of these countries an important item on the research agenda. There is also a need for more comparative research. The history of NATO and the ongoing dynamics of armaments are examples for developments which need to be reflected and analysed in peace history, and can be dealt with properly only in comparative perspective.
Second, there are institutional reasons. In a time of shrinking resources in the humanities, peace historians in Europe should be able to rely on a visible presence in academia in order to increase the chances for successful funding applications. Not least, there are also political reasons why a network of peace historians is timely. Amidst the ‘War on Terror’, justifications for war and the use of collective violence have once again found an increased resonance in the public. An international network would enable peace historians to reach out to a wider public with the results of their research, at the European level.


We expect that the impact of such a network could be threefold: it would encourage, foster and intensify transnational cooperation and exchange amongst historians in Europe who are interested in historical peace research; it would stimulate and support peace history in those European countries where it is just about to develop; it would co-ordinate and thus strengthen activities in historical peace research not only in intellectual terms, but would also facilitate the practical work of all of its members, not least with regard to applications for conference or research grants.

We hope and anticipate that the network could lead to a broad variety of joint research activities, but also expect that the members of the network, via the means of electronic communication, will share and distribute information about ongoing research activities, upcoming conferences and workshops, new publications and book reviews, newly released archival collections etc., and will also be able to find partners and collaborators for planned research activities and conferences.

The following academics from thirteen European countries have signed and supported this proposal:

Dr Laurie Cohen, University of Innsbruck

Dr Massimo De Giuseppe, Università Iulm, Milano

Dr Peter van den Dungen, Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford

Dr Idesbald Goddeeris, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Professor Marcel van der Linden, International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam

Head Librarian Anne Cecilie Kjelling, Norwegian Nobel Institute, Oslo

Professor Alan Kramer, Trinity College, Dublin

Professor Johnny Laursen, Aarhus Universitet

Professor Renato Moro, Università Roma Tre, Dipartimento di Studi Internazionali

Dr Holger Nehring, University of Sheffield

Dr Olav Njølstad, Norwegian Nobel Institute, Oslo

Professor Leopoldo Nuti, Macchiavalli Center for Cold War Studies, Facoltà di Scienze Politiche, Università Roma 3

Dr Nicolas Offenstadt, Maître de Conférences, Université Paris 1 Panthéon

Professor Helge Pharo, Forum for Contemporary History, University of Oslo

Dr habil. Thomas Schneider, Erich Maria Remarque-Friedenszentrum/Universität Osnabrück

Professor Matthias Schulz, Université de Genève

Professor Xosé M. Núñez Seixas, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela

Professor Dimitrios Tsakiris, Technological Educational Institute of Epirus

Professor Maurice Vaïsse, Sciences Po, Paris

Professor Giorgio Vecchio, Università di Parma

Dr habil. Benjamin Ziemann, University of Sheffield

If you are interested in becoming involved in the network, have queries, or suggestions for future activities, please contact the founding members of the network at

We would appreciate if you distribute this proposal as widely as possible. Further information about the network is available at

This homepage will offer a platform for exchange and communication between all those who are interested in the activities of the network.

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