Constructivist pragmatism and academic diplomacy for conflict resolution

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Academic Diplomacy means activity where international experts, rather than other states, try to broker peace as moderators, mediators or facilitators, by using means and methods that are advised by the theory of conflict resolution. Academic diplomacy has been associated with positivist approaches of peace research and it has aimed at creating exogenous conditions that science has proven as useful for peace, and removing exogenous conditions that analysis has associated with the onset or continuation of violence. Peace diplomacy by scholars is therefore based on knowledge rather than power, but it uses only knowledge that is practical; knowledge that puts the academic diplomat on top of things in conflict resolution.
Since academic diplomacy is normally associated with very positivistic “social engineering” of peace, I will in this paper look at how post-positivist approaches could be useful for academic diplomacy and how post-positivist approaches could reveal problems of traditional peace research approaches in the social engineering of peace. The empirical case of this paper is in academic diplomacy in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, where the author conducted conflict resolution training among the leaders of the former conflicting parties.
What the case reveals about approaches to academic diplomacy was not what was expected, i.e. generalizations on exogenous conditions of peace. Instead, it taught about the opportunities to denaturalize and criticize social constructs that were necessary for the legitimation of violence, opportunities to challenge and deconstruct them and to offer alternative constructs that constituted less violent realities. In short practice of academic diplomacy in West Kalimantan taught about the pragmatism of critical and constructivist peace research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
JournalInternational Journal of Political Science & Diplomacy
Issue number102
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • constructivism
  • critical theory
  • conflict resolution
  • West Kalimantan
  • Indonesia


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