Anthropology: Implications for Peace

  • Geneviève Souillac
  • Douglas P. Fry


Anthropologists have been slow to focus explicitly on peace. At the same time, anthropology provides a great deal of data that is highly relevant to understanding peace. Ironically, writers from other disciplines have raided anthropology for information and insights but have not always been true to the accepted canons of science and scholarship in their use of anthropological material. In this chapter, we will consider key topics and controversies. The chapter begins with a discussion of cultural variation in conflict resolution, internally peaceful societies and peace systems. Anthropology shows that humans are fully capable of living in peaceful, non-warring societies. Manifestations of the war, peace and human nature controversy, from divergent views of war and peace in antiquity to modelling ancestral nomadic forager social organization vis-à-vis war and peace, will then be considered. In a final section, examples of peace-making ventures will show that greater attention could be profitably directed towards understanding how local cultures, whether warring or non-warring, foster non-violence and handle disputes without resorting to war. Ultimately, the narrative that underpins Western civilization, in which anthropology and related disciplines are steeped, rests upon a host of modernist assumptions about war, peace and humanity that challenge the full use of anthropological perspectives for the benefit of peace. This chapter will show that this trend can be reversed by a judiciously applied anthropology of peace.


Human Nature Physical Aggression Archaeological Evidence Disciplinary Perspective Human Social Behavior 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Geneviève Souillac and Douglas P. Fry 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geneviève Souillac
  • Douglas P. Fry

There are no affiliations available

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