Thinking about time and temporalities is crucial to the study of peace and conflict. Both concepts are an essential part of how we make sense of the world around us and our existence within it. In consequence, they structure how we think about conflict and peace in a multitude of ways. Whether it’s the foundational distinction between times of peace and times of war (as well as the transitions between them) or the periodization of conflicts, the various ways in which we order conflict and peace temporally have consequences for our interpretations of the subject matter.
Temporal dynamics within conflicts, such as acceleration or deceleration or the potential heterogeneity and interplay of timelines in various arenas, may be useful lenses through which to consider processes in conflict settings. Furthermore, the construction of pasts, presents and futures as well as memory in and of conflict can serve as a powerful moment for a conflict’s continuation, transformation or resurgence.
Inquiries into constructive timing and sequencing are thus also key for conflict transformation and the fostering of peace. Be it the different approaches of dealing with a violent past, challenges of transforming current conflicts or future prospects of peace – time and temporalities are always an integral part when addressing conflict dynamics and peace processes.
While perennial efforts of conceptualizing time and temporalities have left their mark on other disciplines within the social sciences and humanities, the topic has thus far not been at the forefront of academic inquiry in our field. It is therefore time to deepen our understanding of these perspectives, further conceptualize time and temporalities, and strengthen the temporal focus in Peace and Conflict Studies.