Geography Compass

Considering peace

Symbol of peace
Symbol of peace

By William Hasty

Peace, the Oxford English Dictionary informs us, is a state of freedom from disturbance or war – it is a lived tranquillity. All too often lost under the seemingly endless din of war, peace commonly goes unattended in the media, its stories left untold, its effects neglected. Bucking this trend, over the last week, have been at least two stories wherein peace figures large. Most notably, Barak Obama’s appointment to Nobel Laureate for peace caused a stir among the world’s media, with many questioning the Oval Office incumbent’s credentials for such an award. Obama was given the honour for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”. Grabbing significantly less column inches, Dr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Ghandi, visited Scotland this week, meeting with First Minister Alex Salmond to discuss, among other things, the possibility of a centre for non-violence, peace and reconciliation in the country. The First Minister, the Herald reports, was open to the possibility and made a commitment to consider the project in greater detail. Gandhi, the report tells us, is “no mere philosopher, he is man who puts his beliefs into action”. Both appear to be committed in their own very separate ways to promoting peace by encouraging dialogue over combat as a way of resolving conflict.

Gerry Kearns, in a recent Geography Compass paper entitled Progressive Geopolitics, advocates an approach to geopolitical analysis that considers the multi-faceted, multi-scalar and multi-agency nature of international relations. Kearns makes the point in this paper that too few geographers have attempted to include peace in their geopolitics analyses, focusing instead, as do the media, on the effects and implications of war. The paper contends that a richer, more productive and progressive geopolitics can be developed if, among other things, people start considering peace and its effects on the world.

60% world Read BBC report on Obama’s Nobel Prize win

60% world Read Herald report on Gandhi’s visit to Scotland

60% world Read Gerry Kearns (2008) Progressive Geopolitics, Geography Compass, 2 (5): 1599-1620

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