The need for historical understanding in the psychology of peace and conflict

Hegarty, P. (2014). The need for historical understanding in the psychology of peace and conflict. Peace and Conflict: journal of peace psychology, 20(3) 337 - 340.



Psychologists know that peace and conflict form the conditions within which psychological lives are actually lived, and that those lives make up social contexts of peace and conflict. Psychologists also share an understanding that peace and conflict are anything but simple. These little words “peace” and “conflict” are used to name very different and determining configurations of events in different places and times, and the naming of such configurations as peaceful or warlike is itself a social action that affects the social contexts so described. In his term as associate editor of Peace and Conflict, P. Hegarty aims to encourage new research that incorporates a reflexive understanding of psychologists’ work in naming, explaining, and intervening in peace and conflict. As a historian of psychology, he wants to insist on recognition that the peace and conflict that we study and our ways of studying them are historical. He urges new empirical research to examine contemporary peace and conflict as part of an “eventful psychology” that will be all the more impactful for the recognition that it is situated in history.

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