Five books in honour of the International Day of Peace

Mariana Vieira

A library filled with books.

With war and conflict raging across the five inhabited continents, it might seem quaint to celebrate the United Nations’ International Day of Peace on 21 September. Or, perhaps, the continuation of politics by other means, and the suffering that accompanies it, make it ever more pressing to engage with the emerging literature on peace studies. Handpicked from our International Affairs bookshelves, the selection of books below highlights fresh thinking on the age-old questions: How can we end war? How can we achieve long-lasting peace? And who can bring it about?

1) Feminist solutions for ending war

Edited by Megan MacKenzie and Nicole Wegner. Published in London by Pluto Press.

This edited volume radically challenges the status quo of war and militarism as inevitable features of society. The contributors do not invent a new toolkit to move beyond violent conflict, but rather draw on feminist and queer theories to showcase how the normalization of war is being contested around the globe. The rich spectrum of solutions presented will inspire readers to reflect on mainstream narratives of war as human nature.

Read the full review here.

2) Proscribing peace

Written by Sophie Haspeslagh. Published in Manchester by Manchester University Press.

Sophie Haspeslagh has written an important and satisfying book on how listing groups as ‘terrorist’ organizations can hinders peace negotiations in often unexpected ways. Proscribing peace exposes the pitfalls of this short-sighted counterterrorism tool that vilifies these groups and delegitimizes peaceful resolutions. In doing this, Hapeslagh combines an innovative conceptual framework with the compelling case-study of the Colombian peace negotiations.

Read the full review here.

3) African peacekeeping

Written by Jonathan Fisher and Nina Wilén. Published in Cambridge by Cambridge University Press.

This book fundamentally challenges conventional understandings of African peacekeeping. Jonathan Fisher and Nina Wilén reinterpret the role of agency, history and politics to reframe the links between peacekeeping by Africans, the continent’s colonial experiences and the military development of African states. The result is an accessible contribution that sheds light on the opportunities that peacekeeping presents to semi-authoritarian states in Africa. The review below offers more detail on this superb book.

Read the full review here.

4) Everyday peace

Written by Roger Mac Ginty. Published in Oxford by Oxford University Press.

Everyday peace is a powerful book about disruptive peacemaking in the in the face of war. Within Roger Mac Ginty skilfully draws attention to individual acts of peace that persist in even the most violent conflicts. The result is a fundamental challenge to how we understand individual agency in violent contexts and a ground-breaking contribution to the field of peace studies.

Read the full review here.

5) When peace kills politics

Written by Sharath Srinivasan. Published in London by Hurst Publishers.

In When peace kills politics Sharath Srinivasan focuses on how peacekeeping operations in Sudan and South Sudan have unintentionally contributed to processes that reinforce armed conflict. In so doing, Srinivasan approaches that frame peacebuilding as a technical problem whilst remaining constructive and nuanced. A must read for anyone interested the politics of peacebuilding.

Read the full review here.

Mariana Vieira is the Book Reviews Editor of International Affairs.

Read the review section of our September 2022 issue in full here.

Find more suggestions from the IA Bookshelf series here.

If you are interested in reviewing a book for the journal, there are two ways to get in touch. Either register your interest in our book review application form here or follow us on social media where we post regular call outs for specific books and experts.

All views expressed are individual not institutional.

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