A Memory of Johan Galtung

On 17 February, Johan Galtung, the father of ‘peace studies’ and ‘peace research’, passed away at the age of 93. Norwegian, an eclectic scholar, before receiving his master’s degree in Sociology in 1957, he graduated the previous year in Mathematics at the University of Oslo. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s Indian non-violent experience, he later deepened his knowledge of the Italian pacifist world by meeting Danilo Dolci in Sicily.

Professor of sociology and research methodology at Columbia University, and later founder of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo (PRIO) and the TRANSCEND network, in the context of his research, always associated with a strong public commitment, Galtung promoted the constructivist approach to the study of relations between peoples and conflict mediation. Thanks to his insights, developed over the years with great dedication, Galtung made it possible to reconfigure the very concept of peace, removing it from the simple dimension of the absence of war, or from purely spiritualistic visions. A positive peace, based on the full development of human capacities, unleashed through the rejection not only of direct violence, but also of the structural violence that lurks in social relations and cultural production.

As ISIG we have had the honour of collaborating with Johan Galtung on several occasions, including seminars and conferences, as well as the first presentation in Gorizia of the method he devised for conflict management and resolution, in the late 1990s. In 2000 and 2008, Galtung also edited the preface to the respective updated editions of the study ‘Contemporary Armed Conflicts. Which solutions’ by Prof. Fabio Fossati.

In a world that continues to be tragically ravaged by too many wars and violence, as analysed by our Observatory on Conflicts, Johan Galtung’s teachings and concrete experience are still relevant and valuable. This is why we will continue to follow the path he paved, fostering social change for a future of peaceful relations.

Photo by Arnfinn Pettersen from Flickr

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