The Austrian Study Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution (ASPR) held its annual State of Peacebuilding (StoP Conference) at Stadtschalaining in Austria from 9 to 10 December 2019. A small group of scholars (about 15) from around the world was invited to participate and share their work related to war and peace in the post-human age, which was the theme of the event. I presented my working paper, Reflexive Agency, Time, and Space in Peacebuilding, in which I conceptualized how peacebuilding agency, time, and space can be more aligned with the demands of the Anthropocene.
The conference’s unique format is an ASPR tradition. Someone else presented and critiqued my paper, followed by an open discussion, and only by then I could defend my paper for around 10 minutes. It was a helpful format because I learned about the flaws of my paper that I would otherwise not be able to identify.
The Anthropocene, as a conceptual framework for peace studies, has not gained much traction in the Global South, although, of course, a few critical scholars from the Global South have been engaging with the concept for years now. In the Global North, however, the concept seems to have lost its ideational power because of its universalizing tendencies, among other critiques. Infusing this discourse with perspectives from the Global South, even belatedly, can pluralize human experience in the Anthropocene. Those who earlier engaged with the Anthropocene concept and felt that they have failed to unload its historical baggage may reserve their judgment that the same failure will hold for those who just recently entered the discussion. In this case, it would be more helpful and respectful to flag the potential pitfalls of using the Anthropocene as a conceptual framework rather than outrightly rejecting discussions that consider some of its components useful.