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Johanna Söderström

Living Peace and Elite Legacy

My research focus within Varieties of Peace is largely related to various experiences of Living Peace. I am particularly concerned with a more long-term perspective on this issue, but both in relation to elites and the general population. How peace is lived, and the meaning-making surrounding this experience is something I will study in a number of different cases, and across different groups in society. In addition, I have an interest in relational peace, and work on relational peace theoretically as well as empirically.

One aspect of my work is particularly concerned with elite legacies and the life histories of peace signatories. Continuity of elites after war is the norm despite efforts and recommendations to remove them. In order to secure the peace and avoid spoilers these actors are often given a prominent role in politics. In order to map and explain variations in peace, the role of these actors cannot be ignored, yet current research on this group is limited and mainly concerned with the World Wars. I examine a range of signatories to peace agreements and their subsequent political life journeys over the last 20 years or more. The first step involves content analysis of newspaper articles where signatories are mentioned, in order to study the interest and strategies of the signatories of the agreements, as well as their long-term involvement in politics (making conflict or making peace), and capture what kind of role models they are in the public debate. I hope to contribute to a deeper understanding of their position as either protagonists or antagonists of peace as well as their own depiction of peace developments in their respective countries.

Overall, my work within Varieties of Peace is concerned with cases such as Namibia, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Indonesia, the Philippines, Croatia, Lesotho and Mozambique. In terms of fieldwork, I have worked extensively with both focus groups and life history interviews in the past, and plan to continue this within the program.

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