A war historian studies the history of war: no one will quibble with that definition. To say that a peace historian studies the history of peace raises more difficult questions. We may disregard the objection of those who believe that peace is merely the absence of war and that consequently the peace historian has very little to work on. All the contributors to this volume, at least, believe that peace is a rich and varied subject and that whole tracts of the subject have yet to be fully explored. We may also resist the criticism that peace historians risk compromising their integrity by becoming advocates of peace. As a generalization, this is no more true than to say that war historians are all advocates of war. Yet the real question for peace historians, and one which complicates the definition of ‘peace history’, is this: to what extent should peace historians confine themselves to the study of peace advocacy and argument in history, and how far should they engage directly with the dominant (and peace-averse) historical narrative of war? Indeed, the subject has been defined in both of these ways. The first task is vast in itself, given the lack of coverage and low visibility of peace advocacy and peace thinking in most orthodox histories. The efforts of the peace societies of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, for example, still do not feature as prominently as they should in most diplomatic histories of the run-up to the First World War — and are sometimes ignored altogether.


Historical Narrative Ancient World Disciplinary Perspective Peace Research Peace Movement 
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© John Gittings 2016

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