The Cultural Dimension of Peace: Decentralization and Reconciliation in Indonesia, by Birgit Bräuchler

The Cultural Dimension of Peace outlines an emerging cultural turn in peace studies. Taking an anthropological view of decentralization and peace processes in Indonesia as its central focus, it provides an informed understanding of the cultural dimension of reconciliation that is essential for the reintegration of societies that have undergone mass violence and long-lasting conflict. Bräuchler’s study warns of one-sided instrumentalization or harmonization theories, and promotes a critical stance towards the use of ‘culture’, ‘tradition’ and ‘the local’ in peacebuilding. Her focus is on intra-state violence between groups defined by ethnicity, religion or other sub-national (or transnational) collective identities. Based on multi-sited and multi-temporal ethnographic fieldwork, this book develops an approach that opens up spaces and sets a new standard for peace and conflict studies and the anthropology of peace.


1. The Emerging Cultural Turn in Peace Research

2. Decentralization, Revitalization and Reconciliation in Indonesia

3. Conflict and Peacebuilding in Maluku

4. Reconciliation and the Revival of Tradition

5. The Reinvention of Traditional Leadership

6. Indigenous People, Migrants and Refugees: A Clash of Individual and Cultural Human Rights

7. Concluding Reflections: Toward a New Anthropology of Peace

Interested? Order the book at Palgrave

About the author

Dr. habil. Birgit Bräuchler is Senior Lecturer of Anthropology at the School of Social Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne. Her research interests lie in peace and conflict studies; media and cyber anthropology; cultural rights; and Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia. She is the author and editor of several books and has published widely in peer-reviewed journals.


Call for papers: Im/mobilities as products and generators of conflict

PACSA invites papers for its 5th Bi-annual meeting, “Im/mobilities: Products and generators of conflict,” 2-4 September 2015, Frankfurt. Deadline for abstracts: 15 April.

The conference is organised in collaboration with the Peace Research Institute of Frankfurt and Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Goethe-University Frankfurt.


Im/mobility is one of the key concepts in contemporary anthropological theorizing. We are interested in exploring phenomena of im/mobility within the context of peace, violence and conflict.

Mugunga I and II camps of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) / United Nations, used under CC license

Ethnographic research is particularly prone to further insight into the intricacies of im/mobility dynamics. The world is increasingly defined by, and realized in, the movement and circulation of people, goods and ideas across and within different spatial scales.

However, the same processes that promote movement and mobility also produce the contrary, namely, immobility, exclusion and disconnection. As changes in access to mobility dramatically affect multiple aspects of life, looking at im/mobility is a promising point of departure to the study of social change.

In this PACSA meeting we want to explore, how im/mobilities are central to constellations of power, the creation of identities and the everyday with a focus on the way these processes work within situations of conflict and peace.

Im/mobilities can be products and generators of conflicts but they can also be forces in peace advocacy and the facilitation of cross-border interventions. Both can result in gains and losses of power, identity and other sorts of capital. For this upcoming PACSA meeting we encourage reflections on the various types of im/mobility and how they are related to conflict and peace.

Im/mobility in our understanding not only implies movement across space or time, but also social mobility.

Contributions may include but are not limited to the following themes and connected topics:

– Conflict and peace processes caused by international, trans-border and state-internal migration and vice versa.

– Conflict and transformative powers resulting out of the circulation of local, national and international norms, concepts and models and their translation and adaptation.

– Im/mobilities produced by conflicts, including refugees, the mobilization of fighters or peace forces.

– Social memories shaped and transformed by conflictual im/mobilities.

– The im/mobility of private security and non-state actors in war and peace.

– The role of activism, social movements and cross-border interventions of activists in understanding im/mobilities in peace and conflict

Between mobility and immobility / Obregón, Flickr, used under CC license

Contributions are ideally based on theoretical reflections and empirical data. Please send your abstract (max. 300 words) by 15 April 2015 the latest to By the end of May the organizing committee will send out acceptance emails.

Registration fee will be 80 Euro, which includes a conference dinner. We can offer limited funds to subsidize accommodation or travel to EASA members with no or little other funding. More information on this follows in a later stage on


Soldiering under Occupation by Erella Grassiani

A new book by Erella Grassiani saw its launch at the Bi-Annual PACSA event in Copenhagen on August 29th 2013.

Often, violent behavior or harassment from a soldier is dismissed by the military as unacceptable acts by individuals termed, “rotten apples.” In this study, the author argues that this dismissal is unsatisfactory and that there is an urgent need to look at the (mis)behavior of soldiers from a structural point of view. When soldiers serve as an occupational force, they find themselves in a particular situation influenced by structural circumstances that heavily influence their behavior and moral decision-making. This study focuses on young Israeli men and their experiences as combat soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), particularly those who served in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” (OPT) during the “Al Aqsa Intifada,” which broke out in 2000. In describing the soldiers’ circumstances, especially focusing on space, the study shows how processes of numbing on different levels influence the (moral) behavior of these soldiers.

Erella Grassiani is currently Lecturer in the Sociology and Anthropology Department at the University of Amsterdam. Her work focuses on military and security issues in Israel.


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