While the central question of diversity has often been how to live in peace with difference, we approach the question — what happens when diversity also involves conflicting approaches to peace? This paper contains the authors’ reflections on the colloquium with the same title held in the On Diversity Conference 2012 in Vancouver, where the authors and participants explored peace itself as an expression of diversity.
We argue that an attempt to answer this question requires a change in focus; if there is no longer a unifying peace, how can we engage with diversity in a plurality of conflicting peaces? Mainstream peace and conflict studies literature understands conflict as opposite to peace. Supported in contemporary critical research, we argue that the concept of peace rather than being perfect, absolute and pure is in fact impure, diverse, and conflictive. Hence, an understanding of peace that attempts to embrace diversity will necessarily be relational, include conflict and engage with it, in contrast to silencing it or suppressing it. We argue that instead of being its opposite, conflict is in fact an essential component of peace. To elaborate on the argument, we deal with two of the possible interpretations of peace in history and culture: peace linked to security, understood as the eradication of threats from others and therefore recurring to ideals of perfection and homogeneity; and peace as an experience of harmony, highlighting mystical or musical harmony, which, far from being pure, emerges also out of conflicting tones. We conclude that both in traditions of mysticism and in security politics, diversities in friction lie at the core of experiencing and conceptualizing peace.
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