CfP for the ‚Post-Conflict Project‘, led by the Woodrow Wilson International Center

Introduction: In the twenty years that have passed since the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of a bipolar geopolitical order, the world has experienced no fewer than 116 violent conflicts. Encompassing regional and inter-communal struggles, civil wars, insurrections and counterinsurgencies, ethnic cleansings, politicides, and so-called wars on terror, these ’new wars‘ –as Mary Kaldor has described them—have not only been notable for their brutality, but also for the fact that they have largely extinguished any lingering distinctions between civilians and combatants, the front and the rear. As military operations on urban terrain, sieges, and scorched earth tactics have reintroduced themselves with a new vigor in the repertoire of warfare, an entire reconstruction industry has emerged in their wake, bringing with it new forms of expertise in the assessment and management of the post conflict environment.
Indeed, because war has rapidly become a metropolitan phenomenon, one of the most prominent though overlooked consequences of the contemporary history of warfare may be the emergence of the ‚post-conflict environment‘ itself; that is, the appearance of a series of common social and physical attributes out of wartime conditions, wherever armed conflicts occur. Despite the important political, geographic, and economic differences between them, in Kosovo, Falluja, Guatemala, and the Sudan, the logic of conflict generates something approaching a universal ecology of ruin. To date, however, this post-conflict environment has only been described in fragmentary form with too little exchange across disciplines and issue areas. Distributed throughout the academic and policy literatures on postwar stabilization and reconstruction, transitional governance, humanitarian assistance, peace and nation building, informal networks and civil society, the characteristics of the post-conflict environment await systematic description in a single work.
The Post-Conflict Project: The aim of the Post-Conflict Environment Project is to attempt such a description; first, in a workshop and then in a published monograph and linked web site aimed at a readership of academics and non-specialists alike. Recognizing the twin methodological challenges presented by the distinctiveness of individual conflicts on one hand, and of the disciplinary approaches developed to interpret them on the other, the organizers of the Post-Conflict Project see this range of political and methodological cases as an opportunity to delineate a \’composite image\‘ of the postwar environment. In other words, we seek to analyze the most prevalent/salient characteristics of the post-conflict environment out of the cumulative descriptions and interpretations of differing postwar conditions.
Rationale: Today, few wars are declared, fewer treaties are signed, and no formal surrenders take place. Contemporary conflict is marked as much by recidivism into armed struggle as anything else. For these reasons a comprehensive description of the post-conflict environment must necessarily eschew facile distinctions between peace and war: both are relevant to the landscape in which peace-building initiatives and low-intensity warfare can coexist, just as neither adequately describe the provisional nature of turns away and towards armed struggle. These paradoxes have policy relevance, however: by reviewing the dialectics of the post-conflict environment, the organizers of the project seek to ascertain if this new, highly liminal condition between anarchy and formal politics signals the new, \’normative,\‘ politics of the next century.
Process: Phase 1. The Workshop
Phase 2. Publication
Phase 3. Website and Book Release
Submissions/Deadlines: Individuals who wish to participate in the Post-Conflict Environment Project should submit an abstract of no more than 250 words, as well as a CV of no more than 2 pages to Kathy Langworthy, Administrator, P-CON Program – Colgate University. Abstracts and CV\’s should be combined in a single msword document, and sent as attachments to Ms. Langworthy at: klangworthy@mail.colgate.edu. The deadline for submissions is Friday, 31 October 2008.