In Memoriam of Three Colleagues Who Recently Passed On

EDITORIAL, 26 Jul 2010

#122 | Johan Galtung

Elise M. Boulding (1920–24 Jun 2010)

Who is the father of peace studies may be disputed, but as to the mother there is only one opinion: you, dearest Elise.  You embraced us all, found a place for everybody to feel at home.

And yet you were a tremendous intellectual, spanning vast fields. The woman in you contributed to The Underside of History, there, as on so many other occasions, identifying the hidden sources and resources for peace, concealed by the patriarchic overlayer.  You did the same for your key model of peace, the small community, based on mutual care, providing for the basics.

But above all I will underline your work on imaging and visions, bringing parties to conflicts together to peer into the future, furnishing it with concreteness.  If peace were to come it would be in the future–so why not get to know it better?

Right on.  I did not agree with you when you worked for image consensus; I would worry less about consensus and more about the level of creativity in the visions.  But that is a detail.

Added to all of this, as if that were not enough, you were an indefatigable institution-builder.  You took on the grueling job of editing “International Peace Research Newsletter”, linking it to the IPRA, International Peace Research Association, we founded at Ciba in London 3 December 1964–I remember us walking arm in arm afterwards, immensely happy that internationalization had been institutionalized, with an adequate link to UNESCO, and a superb Secretary General in Bert Röling, another pioneer.

You insisted on plain communication, scolding me for acronyms that were not self-explanatory.  And you were yourself the best communication, the love in your eyes, your voice, you arms, not only expressed peace.  They were peace.  Thanks, you dearest Elise, and an extra thanks to another pioneer, your Kenneth.

John Wear Burton (2 Mar 1915–23 Jun 2010)

You were different from most others pioneering peace studies. We came from the peace movement, or from somewhere in the vicinity; you came from “the other side”, the young super-talented Secretary of the Australian foreign ministry, with a top level foreign policy experience shared by few others, already at the young age when peace studies became your field.

You became the chosen person for a possible social science Pugwash, called COROIPAS (Conferences and Seminars on Research on International Peace and Security), but you later turned to IPRA.

And you brought something to peace studies nobody else could do: an ingenious kind of social science simulation of the real thing, the negotiations among statesmen-diplomats-politicians.  You laid down the rules for this type of controlled negotiation, also a magnificent pedagogical tool to understand better the intricacies of a negotiation process.  Many were those who participated in these exercises at your numerous universities.

At ICAR, the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University outside Washington DC, you settled more as an academic, using basic needs as the pillar on which peace studies could be founded.  Among the basic needs you focused on identity, and became a true specialist on identity driven conflicts; today found everywhere.

I think identity dominated too much, pushing aside trivial needs like for food and shelter, health and education.  Of course Northern Ireland had to do with Protestant-Unionist vs. Catholic-Republican identities, but also with jobs and food and material livelihood in general.   But John, you were a true pioneer and institution-builder; a reservoir of rich experiences, always willing to share with others. Thanks and thanks again, dear John.

Hakan Wiberg (12 Jun 1942–3 Jul 2010)

Dearest Håkan: I hear your hyena laughter, laughing away what has happened as when we were told by some true Soviet believers that left wing social democrats were the hyenas and lackeys of capitalism.  Your wonderful sense of humor, your warmth, your deep concern for others and your never ending solidarity with your friends–and they were very many, indeed!–will stay with us forever.  I loved you Håkan, permit me that word, from the time you showed up in shorts in winter Norway more than 50 years ago for our theory weeks, through the numerous periods of my own pursuits, to Dubrovnik, Benidorm, Jondal, to the Vienna Center and the project on the Images of the world in the Year 2000.  You could always be trusted to contribute from your enormous, ever growing, arsenal of knowledge.  And most recently Multidimensional Social Science; Kees, Juan, and the others also send their love.

You were an exceptional intellectual, at home in mathematics, China, social science, philosophy, well versed in many languages including Serbian; a living example of the multidisciplinarity of peace studies.  You knew that much was needed, and met the bill.  Your encyclopedic knowledge was proverbial, we did not google problems, we wiberged them.  Till the end you added to your own knowledge and wisdom.  We had a disagreement: you looked at the past and the empirical, I more at the future and the creative for the roots of peace.  But that difference never came between us.

Håkan: I see you for my inner eyes enjoying the pleasures of life with true delight in your eyes, always good at finding words for good feelings, not wasting time on the bad ones.  You will live on, Håkan, not only for us, but in us.  Thanks, thanks, my dear friend, for our many good years together, and I dedicate my new book on those first years to you, for your deep understanding.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 26 Jul 2010.

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2 Responses to “In Memoriam of Three Colleagues Who Recently Passed On”

  1. Birgit Brock-Utne says:

    I gave a small speech at the recent IPRA meeting commemorating my dear friend Elise Boulding. Elise was ninety and had been frail for some time.

    It was, however, a shock to learn about Håkan’s death.I knew he had had a stroke a couple of years ago but he assuredme that now he had totally recovered. He was writing e-mails again. We had had a lot of correspondence right before the IPRA conference in Sydney about trying to rent an apartment together with two bedrooms and two bathrooms because we liked spending time together. Just a couple of days before the conference started, which I now understand was a couple of days before his death, I got a mail from him where he wrote that his doctor had forbidden him to embark on such a long journey. I sent him the report I made from the IPRA conference but when that report reached him he was already dead.

    I have known Håkan since 1981 when I worked at PRIO and Håkan was there often. I had an office in Rådhusgata with a shower next to it and Håkan liked to take a shower and come into my office in his Japanese Yukata.He loved life, good food and wine, conversations on many topics. He taught me a lot and was the 1.opponent when I got my doctoral degree in peace studies.At that occasion he wore a black leather suit.For almost thirty years we have written postcards to each other from all over the world. He was a true friend, full of humour and wit, a wonderful human being and a great loss to the peace research community. I remember the many times he rescued rather chaotic administrative meetings in IPRA through his calmness and straight thinking.You live as long as we live Håkan.