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Pax Academica and the Art of the (Im)possible: Investigating habitus, field and capital with lecturers in peace studies

30th November 2015

CGHR Research Group Seminar

Pax Academica and the Art of the (Im)possible: Investigating habitus, field and capital with lecturers in peace studies

Kevin Kester (Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge)

Discussant: Dr Arathi Sriprakash (Faculty of Education)

The role of the university peace lecturer as an agent in framing and objectifying peace (as an object of study and as a discourse of practice) has rarely been examined. Furthermore, the educators’ embodied and institutionalized forms of capital – and their beliefs and social positions in relation to this capital – have not been thoroughly investigated. This study, therefore, explores how university peace lecturers understand and define the boundaries of peace studies, their reasons for entering this field of work, and the forms of capital they possess that enable them to teach a particular conception of peace – either in continuity with or in disruption of UN norms. Our research methodology is informed by Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, capital and field. Drawing upon questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, participant objectivation, documentary analysis and ethnographic interactions with UN university lecturers, students and staff at the University for Peace (UPEACE) in Costa Rica, and its affiliated program in Hargeisa, Somaliland. Our study seeks to shed light on taken-for-granted assumptions of peace studies, the spatial and intellectual parameters of the field, and the intricacies of how educators negotiate, compete and influence the field from within, while responding to the many tensions in the field.

The University of Cambridge Centre of Governance and Human Rights Research Group is a forum for graduate students and early-career researchers from any department and disciplinary background researching issues of governance and human rights in the global, regional, and national contexts. This is an excellent opportunity to receive cross-disciplinary feedback, to produce a published CGHR Working Paper with editorial help, and to meet and network with student and academic researchers.