Peace Studies Exam Review
1. On Suffering And Structural Violence farmer
- Suffering, violence, misery, all of these exist. The question is, can we truly analyze
or define them, as they are so unique to the sufferer? Which forms of suffering are
worse? Is rape or abuse more or less damaging than long-term sufferance like
racism or poverty? Cultural relativism is also worth considering: some cultures
may fully believe in or support the traditions that lead to suffering. This, however, is
a flawed belief and the author of the article insists that it is an alibi to maintain
- Haiti is a good case study for human suffering. Haitians of the last decade are more
subject to extreme poverty and political violence than ever before. They are the only
country in the Western hemisphere that is characterized by “extreme human
suffering.” They have land that is near impossible to grow plentiful crops on and are
ravaged by AIDS and TB.
The story of Acephie
Acephie came from a family that lost all of their wealth at the hands of a
flood. In an attempt to secure some financial security for her constantly suffering
family, she fell into a dalliance with a soldier and married man (Captain Honorat) as
many poor Hatian girls were wont to do. Their affair lasted for only a short time, but
Acephie contracted AIDS from the captain. He died shortly thereafter, leaving a poor
wife with five hungry children and no income. Acephie began to work as a servant in
Port-au-Prince (the nearby wealthy city), and soon became pregnant with the child
of a relatively financially stable Hatian man who left her once he learned of the
pregnancy. Her employer was not keen on the idea of a pregnant servant, so she
returned to her village, where she birthed an AIDS-infected daughter. Acephie
herself began to suffer from the more serious effects of AIDS and soon died. Her
father hanged himself.
The story of Chouchou
Chouchou had a typical Haitian childhood, dropping out of school at a young
age to help support his family. His adult life was ushered in by a wave of political
turmoil in Haiti (in a nutshell: new pro-democratic voices called for the cessation of
the oppressive Duvalier rulers, so the Haitians – mostly all in poverty – voted in a
leader who empathized with them. Shortly after he was elected, the military – who
had been enjoying the payroll that came with the violent oppression of the former
leader – overthrew the new president and continued being assholes to the Haitian
people). Chouchou, while on a truck with other passengers, made a passive
comment about the shitty state of the road, but the comment was clearly also a
subtle statement about the unfortunate political situation. One of the other passengers on the truck was a soldier, and at the next stop he was removed and
brutally beaten by more soldiers in front of the other truck passengers. He was then
held in a military barracks for days. Shortly thereafter, Chouchou was arrested once
more. This time he was arrested from his home, and though no reason was given
(the official bullshit statement was that he had stolen bananas) it is worth noting
that both his watch and radio were taken from him. This time, Chouchou was
tortured for days and left in a ditch to die. His relatives carried him home to his
family where he suffered for three days before dying.
The point of these stories is that these two (very commonly seen) types
of suffering both came as a result of structural violence. It is “structured” because
the factors that lead to the violence have been historically and economically put into
place before even the birth of the people suffering. There arthree general
reasons why structural violence cannot be described well.
For one, we are more apt to understand and empathize with situations we can relate
to. Because these situations are geographically and culturally foreign to us, they are
often at arms-length. Second, structural violence cannot be truly understood by
people who do not go through it. Finally, the dynamics and distribution of suffering
are poorly understood. It is too impossible a task to use biographic stories like this
to fully grasp such things.
Liberation theology is the attempt to use social analysis to make sense of
human suffering and maybe eventually work towards ending it. Chouchou and
Acephie’s stories show us that the following factors must all be taken into account
when trying to socially analyze structural violence (note: the textbook refers to these
factors as ‘axes’ as in variables on a graph, so just be ready to hear these referred to as
‘the axis of…’ on the exam).
Gender: For example, women are confronted often with sexist forms of suffering
while men tend to face more raw brutality. That said, women (particularly poor
women) tend to have it much worse because their human rights are infringed upon
Race: Ethnicity is often used unjustly to distribute social significance. Thusly, if you
happened to be born into a certain race in shitty circumstances, your rights
automatically mean less.
Other Noteworthy Factors: Really any distinguishing characteristics. Refugee or
immigrant status, sexual orientation, etc. (NOTE: In ALL of these factors, the author
makes it clear that poverty greatly worsens the degree of suffering). 2. The Trouble We’re In hossay
Basically, this article begins by emphasizing (rather dramatically) that we are over
polluting our planet and hindering its ability to support life while also consuming far
more resources than the planet can provide. This is tied in directly with the
inequality in the distribution of these resources. In a nutshell, we take too much
and do not share it nearly well enough. This is supported by a million different
graphs and statistics that we’ve all seen before (I didn’t include any of them because
there are too many for them to expect us to learn and because I think this article is
more significant in its message).
The article goes on to explain that global warming is very real and very present, and
that we are horrifyingly close to the point of no return. At some point, our global
temperature rise will trigger natural environmental feedbacks that will start a
heating snowball effect and eventually we’ll all be shit-out-of-luck. The immediate
concerns will be a rise in sea levels, the destruction of forests (and as a result,
pests and disease everywhere!), loss of species, more human respiratory
problems, and severe weather conditions.
Ecocide is basically the silly left-wing hippie term to describe the destruction of
environments (LOL the next section begins by saying that people often associate
these concerns with hippies). The usual trademarks of these types of articles are all
here: we are effectively destroying ourselves, it’s only going to get worse, political
turmoil is going to occur, nobody is doing anything about it, blah blah blah etc.
This article is mostly a bombardment of facts to support a thesis that is already well-
understood. If you don’t feel you can adequately answer multiple-choice questions on
how the environment is being destroyed, consider reading the article. Otherwise, I
wouldn’t sweat it, this one is very self-explanatory.
3. Violence, Peace, and Peace Research
Here, Galtung seeks to define both peace and violence. He claims that the
current ambiguous definition of peace is really only effective because we all see it as
the ideal, and thus it is a way to obtain universal agreement. It is very hard to be
against peace since we all see it as the ideal. However, this is in some ways good. If
we used more specific terms to define what peace is, differences in vocabulary could
create misunderstanding and conflict.
He begins with three principles that serve as the groundwork for his discussion on
peace. They are as follows:
1. The term ‘peace’ shall be used for social goals that many or most people verbally agree to.
2. Though these goals may be complex and difficult, they cannot be impossible to
3. The statement peace is absence of violence is valid.
His definition of violence is different from what most of us call to mind when we
hear the word. Galtung defines it as follows…
Violence is present when human beings are being influenced so that their
actual somatic and mental realizations are below their potential realizations.
Here’s what he means: Violence is what occurs when influencing factors cause there
to be a gap between what we are physically and mentally capable of, and what is
actually happening. Violence is that which increases the distance between the
potential and the actual.
For example: If we live in an era where a disease is curable, and somebody dies of
that disease, it can be seen as violence. Within his definition, there’s indirect and
direct violence. For example, killing somebody is direct violence in that creates a
divide (the ultimate physical divide, really) between the person’s potential physical
health and their actual physical health, but it is also indirect violence in that it
destroys that persons own ability to bring the actual closer to the potential.
The value of Galtung’s “mental realizations” is tricky to pinpoint, because of
course we don’t all see value in the same ways. For this reason, he says that the ideal
mental realizations (the “potential”) we should strive towards should be based on
things we all agree to be valuable. For example: Literacy is universally thought of as
valuable, whereas religion is not.
Both physical and mental violence can be broken down in many ways. Here’s a
It is worth noting that even Positively Influenced Psychological Violence counts as
violence because it still prevents humans from realizing the potential. Though it did not seem to fit conveniently into that flowchart, it is worth knowing that Galtung
also emphasizes a difference between direct (personal) violence and indirect
(structural) violence. The term “structural violence” should be familiar to us by
now from the first article in the textbook, so to recap: it is violence brought about by
conditions and factors rather than humans. In the article, he later begins referring to
structural violence as social injustice.
Even unintended violence is violence. We tend to assign guilt to those who had
intention (i.e. if you had the intention to harm, you are guilty regardless of
consequence). The problem with this is that it fails to capture structural violence
because there is rarely intent to harm in cases of structural violence (i.e. if unfair
division of resources is present, it is more likely the intent of those in charge to
achieve personal gain rather than to harm others).
The failure to protect non-violent structures is violence. This one is tricky, but it
more or less means that if there are not measures in place to ensure the upholding
of nonviolent principles, there is violence presence. This is referred to as latent
So Galtung’s ideas begin to expand how we think of violence and apply the term
to a much wider variety of things. Untruthfulness, for example, would now be
considered violence because (you guessed it) it prevents humans from realizing the
potential. The destruction of things (objects) can be thought of as violence because it
can be seen as either a foreboding threat of the destruction of people or it can be
psychologically damaging to those who posses the destroyed objects. The unequal
distribution of resources is a form of structural violence. If people are starving when
this is objectively unavoidable, violence is present.
He goes on to explain that humans have a natural tendency to arrange
themselves into a hierarchical order and therefor that structural violence is
seemingly more natural than structural peace. He also says that absence of one
type of violence is bought at the expense of the threat of the other. This means
that, if you wish to have a society in which personal violence prevents structural
violence (i.e. police enforcement to maintain structural peace), you must accept that
the moment that personal violence crumbles, structural violence will step in (and
vice versa). Despite this trend, Galtung insists that there is not a logical
connection between the two types of violence.
On the topic of peace, rather than violence, Galtung introduces two new terms (I’m
really sorry about all the terms, but this guy loves specificity): Negative peace
(absence of personal violence) and Positive peace (absence of structural
violence). The problem with studying peace is that there is often imbalance in the
studies of positive peace and negative peace. The problem is that approaching either
method of promoting peace on it’s own will allow for the other type to occur. Trying
to create a socially just society will allow for personal violence, while trying to
eliminate personal violence will likely cause social violence. This leads some people to approach peace research with an apprehensive down-the-middle approach, but
that is ineffective in practice.
FINALLY Galtung presents us with THREE possible solutions to work towards
peace and then a FOURTH ideal solution, his eventual thesis.
1. Slant the definition of peace in one of the two ways. Either the absence of personal
violence or the absence of structural violence.
2. Give up the word ‘peace’ and then try our best to work towards one or both of the
3. Combine the above two. Avoid the idealistic notion of ‘peace’ as most people know
it, and give up one of the two goals.
4. Treat both goals as equally significant and use nonviolent social
action to achieve them. Cross our fingers in the hopes that the
future will continue to yield more rich concepts and forms of social
ALRIGHT. That was a 24-page article, so as you can imagine, there is more detail to
observe if you choose to re-read it yourself (be warned if you haven’t tried to read it
already, it is written in a very basic form of argumentative rhetoric and therefor takes
significantly longer to understand than to actually read). I’ve tried to highlight the
important parts, the crown jewel being Galtung’s concluding thoughts, and the terms
that are likely of most significance.
4. Armed Conflicts, 1946-2009 themmer and
From the onset, this article seems to be concerned with emphasizing that armed
conflict is alive and well. This article, not unlike The Trouble We’re In, is more a vast
collection of statistics and graphs than the presentation of an idea or thesis, so
unless you think the exam may require you to call to mind specific dates and
numbers (which I’d say is unlikely, given the sheer amount of them in this article),
there are very few points of importance. They are as follows:
- A dyad is a pair of warring parties
- 1000 or more battle-related deaths constitutes a war
- Overall, the global developments of 2009 do not point to either a significant
decrease or increase in war
- However, there has been a gradual increase in numbers since 2003, and the lack of
new peace agreements in 2009 (only one was signed in the year) is alarming. 5. Mechanisms of Peace through Health
Mcqueen and santabarbra
Peace can be promoted through the promotion of health (PtH is the abbreviation of
Peace Through Health, it may be used in this abbreviated form on the exam), and
therefore by healthcare workers. The following is a list of methods through which
this is possible:
Redefinition of The Situation: Healthcare workers can present the situation as
exactly what it is – a damaging event that harms all people. They are above bias.
Subordinate Goals: When two warring parties have mutual goals, it is easy to use
them as a platform for peacemaking. When these goals are health related, healthcare
workers can draw empathy from both sides and show them their mutual interests.
Mediation and Conflict Transformation: Because healthcare workers are seen
largely as unbiased parties in warring areas, they can mediate smaller scale conflicts
or transform conflicts into more beneficial situations.
Dissent and Noncooperation: By refusing to endorse potentially war-supporting
decisions, healthcare organizations can refuse to cooperate and thusly voice their
dissent in issues of contention.
Discovery and Dissemination of Knowledge: Healthcare organizations tend to
provide statistics and facts on the true damages of war, which opens the public eyes
to the reality of war.
Rebuilding The Fabric of Society: This is the obvious one. Healthcare workers can
help to repair and rebuild after conflict to prevent further issues.
Solidarity and Support: When oppressed groups are suffering because the public is
not aware of their plights, healthcare workers can deliberately work with the
oppressed groups so as to promote awareness of their problems.
Social Healing: Akin to rebuilding the fabric of society, healthcare workers can heal
psychological damages like post-traumatic stress disorder.
Evocation and Extension of Altruism: Healthcare is ultimately an act of altruism.
Just the existence of healthcare promotes the right mentality.
Limiting The Destructiveness of War: Healthcare workers can prevent war from doing as much damage before and during actual war times by actively working
against the development of new weapons etc.
This article is a pretty easy one to understand. I would anticipate that if there are
questions based on it, they would be something along the lines of “which of the
following is NOT a way for PtH workers to promote peace?”
6. Speaking Truth to Power: Acting on Values,
Ethics, and Rights in South Africa Wendy Orr
Between 1960 and 1990, more than 70 South African detainees died, due largely to
medical negligence. Dr. Wendy Orr was surgeon in this general time period, and
later gave a speech to McMaster University about her experiences. These were the
- The South African apartheid health-care system denied human rights and often
- Police assaults or interrogation torture on detainees often were the number one
cause of injury
- Nobody in the medical field seemed to care about the injustice
- Despite difficulties and pressure to conform to the attitude of her colleagues, Dr.
Wendy Orr came into contact with a good human rights lawyer who encouraged her
to bring her evidence to the supreme court (which she did)
- Her mission was successful. Reports of assault and torture drastically declined and
Dr. Orr was removed from any politically sensitive occupational fields in the area
This is a very easy article to grasp. Dr. Orr spends a lot of time explaining that she had
a “moral obligation” to do what was right. Also worth knowing, they reference the case
of a detainee named Steve Biko, who was captured, tortured, and killed at the hands of
7. Introduction to City of the End of Things
Hart and mackay
This article is a brief explanation of the significance of the Whidden lectures given
around the time of the cold war. The author explains that it was a time of flux in
politics, economics, religion, and culture. In popular culture, music, fashion and drugs.
The lectures given by Oppenheimer, Frye, and Salmon focus on the war/peace
effect of physics, literature, and empire. This section summarizes the speech given by Oppenheimer, a physicist who
opposed the hydrogen bomb on moral and technical grounds despite being partly
responsible for its creation. He said that the process of learning about nature also
forces us to learn about ourselves. As far as the use of the bomb goes, he is of the
opinion that there could have been more warning for those who suffered. He
also does not try to deny that physics made the bombings of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki possible, and that physicists therefor have a huge responsibility to make
I would guess that any questions based on this article would pertain to the link
between science and peace/morality.
8. The Nemesis of Empire: Land of Hope and
This was Edward Togo Salmon’s lecture comparing the conquest of the Roman
empire to that of the British empire. He analyzes their downfalls and successes.
He begins with the Roman Empire . They were very inclusive with
citizenship, so they almost always outnumbered their rivals. Furthermore, what
made the Roman Empire unique was that people wanted to become Roman citizens.
To acquire Roman citizenship was not an obligation, it was a privilege. When
Romans acquired a new province, it was not given its own central government.
Rather, it was given one main (and frequently changed) governor. This helped to
keep provinces from developing their own central political power, which kept them
bound to the main state. The Roman army was actually rather makeshift, and was
often not large enough to do its job. A surprisingly inconsequential flaw with the
Roman system was that they taxed all of their provinces, despite not giving
them any central political representation. They did this largely to subsidize Italy,
who paid almost nothing in taxes. A fascinating thing about the Roman Empire was
that racism was almost nonexistent and social mobility was so flexible as to
allow for slaves to become highly ranked individuals. In fact, senate officials
were often immigrants with no family background at all, coming from the outer
provinces. It is this type of codependency and unification that separates the
Roman Empire from the British Empire, where people from the main provincial
power would often go out into colonies, but people from the colonies would not go
to the main provincial power. The Roman Empire was by all accounts tremendously
prosperous and internally peaceful until it’s eventual destruction.
The British Empire on the other hand, was not nearly as potent or durable.
Great Britain monopolized the industrial world because they were the first to
revolutionize in an industrialize sense. Historians tend to argue that Britain’s advanced technology kept their empire together because colonies were glad to
have this new technology. However, around the time of the First World War, other
countries began to develop industrially as well. Countries may have felt attached to
Britain because it was materially attractive and because in many cases (Canada,
New Zealand, Australia) it helped to supply them with the settlers that would make
up their country. The problem with British dominion was that they were faced
with a harrowing array of different cultures and environments to deal with, so they
could not approach every conquest in a uniform way, as the Romans were able to
do. Furthermore, the hereditary monarchical nature of the British Empire
(king, prince, queen, princess, etc) made it impossible for colonial citizens to
enter the political hierarchy. The British people were also very unwelcoming to
the concept of being ruled over by oversea subjects of their own monarch. Because
of Britain’s refusal to welcome an influx of politically minded subjects from its
provinces, these people remained in the provinces and strengthened their individual
political identities. Thus, the British were deliberately preparing their colonies for
individual representation and sovereignty. This led to their quick downfall.
In summary, the Romans made themselves the ideal, so people chose to be Roman and
were so happy with the opportunities available to them as Romans that they did not
object to the rule. The British did not provide these equalities and had a far more
varied group of provinces to deal with.
9-10. The Year Of The Sheep / Where Are the
The highland clearances occurred when a significant number of people were
displaced from their homes in the Scottish highlands during the 18 and 19 th
centuries. The aristocratic landowners of the area decided to stop allowing the local
farmers to harvest the land, forcing the largely agricultural community out of their
homeland. What is relevant about these stories is the brutality