Working towards paradise; joining up peace and conflict studies, anthropology, conservation biology and environmental sciences for an interdisciplinary theory of environmental peacebuilding.

Authors: Josepha Wessels*, Lund University
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Environment, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: Environmental Peacebuilding, Natural Resources, Conflict, Human Ecosystem Approach, Cultural Theory
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Studio 3, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Exploring the human-environment nexus and linkages between (post-conflict) political developments and environmental dimensions, this paper reflects on the development of interdisciplinary theories of environmental peacebuilding. Theories of environmental peacebuilding come from a variety of different disciplines within the social and biophysical sciences; warfare ecology (Machlis et al. , 2011), environmental politics, political ecology and environmental peacemaking (Waisová 2017; Dresse et al., 2016; Carius, 2007; Conca and Dabelko, 2002), which are fields of social and biophysical science research. Against a background of constructivist theories of conflict, offering a holistic, multi-dimensional understanding of processes such as war, conflict and conflict resolution (Jackson, 2009), this paper argues that in order to come to some kind of comprehensive theory of environmental peacebuilding, there is a need for several paradigm shifts. The first paradigm shift should take place in the field of peace and conflict studies, going from the liberal peacebuilding to a more holistic approach. The second paradigm shift will have to take place in conservation biology and environmental sciences, from a conventional anthropocentric ecosystem to a Human Ecosystem approach, whereby human beings are integral part of the natural environment, linking the biophysical, terrestrial, physical, cultural and socio-economic components of the environment. The paper will explore further anthropological theories of culture, and how this can be connected with the paradigm shifts. Based on previously carried out fieldwork and a desk-study, two geographical cases will be highlighted in the paper, to dissect the proposed theoretical approaches; the crisis of Darfur and the war in Syria.

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