Conceptualising peace and its preconditions: the anti-Pelagian imagination and the critical turn in peace theory

Dingli, S. (2021) Conceptualising peace and its preconditions: the anti-Pelagian imagination and the critical turn in peace theory. Journal of International Political Theory, 17(3), pp. 468-487. (doi: 10.1177/1755088220951592)

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This article examines the conceptualisation of peace and its preconditions manifested in the critical turn in peace theory: bottom-up approaches which begin with particular contexts and postulate diverse local actors as integral to the process of peace-building. This article argues that a turn is at an impasse and is unable to address the crucial charge that its conceptualization of peace is inconsistent. To explain the persistence of inconsistency and to move us forward, the article analyses, evaluates and responds to the turn through the lens of Nicholas Rengger’s work on the anti-Pelagian imagination in political theory. This is defined as a tendency to begin theorising from non-utopian, anti-perfectionist and sceptical assumptions. Through this examination the article argues that the critical turn is anti-Pelagian but not consistently so because it often gives way to perfectionism, adopts naïve readings of institutions and postulates demanding conceptions of political agency and practice. This inconsistency with its own philosophical premises makes the turn’s conceptualisation of peace and its preconditions incoherent. Finally, the article sketches an alternative account of peace which draws upon a number of anti-Pelagian scholars and mobilises Rengger’s particular defense of anti-Pelagianism. The suggested alternative, the article argues, provides us with a more coherent position and a way out of existing dead ends.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Dingli, Dr Sophia
Authors: Dingli, S.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Journal Name:Journal of International Political Theory
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1755-1722
Published Online:24 August 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Author
First Published:First published in Journal of International Political Theory 17(3): 468-487
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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