Johan Galtung obituary


The Norwegian sociologist Johan Galtung, who has died aged 93, was a number one contributor to peace and battle analysis. His concepts about optimistic peace and structural violence have had a worldwide resonance. Now taught in additional than 500 universities, the sphere he helped to determine has grow to be a worldwide endeavour to develop systematic data concerning the causes of violence, the circumstances of peace and the technique of efficient peacebuilding.

When he was known as as much as the Norwegian military in 1951, Galtung had a disaster of conscience. Ought to he observe his father’s instance and go into the military, or ought to he refuse to serve? He determined to refuse.

But it surely was not sufficient simply to say no. Feeling a “palpable disgust” for struggle, Galtung wished to seek out an alternate. He requested a librarian for books on the examine of peace. She stated no such books existed. This was the second his mission in life turned clear. He would set about growing peace research himself.

Galtung used his six months in jail as a conscientious objector to learn the writings of Gandhi. Along with his mentor, the thinker Arne Naess, he extracted a set of 81 norms for nonviolent battle behaviour. The e-book and articles they wrote served as a basis for Galtung’s later considering.

He studied on the College of Oslo, gaining a postgraduate diploma in arithmetic in 1956, the 12 months of his marriage to Ingrid Eide, a sociologist and later minister in Norway’s Labour get together authorities. Lively in scholar politics, he realized to talk eight languages and skim extensively in historical past, psychology, economics and worldwide relations.

In 1957 he was awarded a doctoral diploma in sociology and took up an assistant professorship in sociology at Columbia College, New York.

There he absorbed behavioural social science and statistical strategies. Quite than settle for tenure, he returned to Oslo and arrange a division for battle and peace analysis within the Norwegian Institute for Social Analysis, along with Eide.

In 1966 this division turned the Peace Analysis Institute Oslo (Prio), with Galtung as its first director. It was additionally the house of the Journal of Peace Analysis, which Galtung based in 1964. Each nonetheless carry out main roles within the discipline.

In a collection of highly effective articles for the journal, Galtung laid out a conceptual foundation for peace research. It ought to cowl each direct violence (the appliance of bodily power to harm or kill) and structural violence (the deprivation of life probabilities because of social buildings). To those he paired unfavorable peace (the absence of direct violence) and optimistic peace (the absence of structural violence). The duty of peace research must be to pursue each unfavorable and optimistic peace. To some, this risked peace research changing into a “black gap”, with no limits on its scope.

However Galtung insisted on the necessity for a complete method. Growth was a situation of peace. In 1977 he left his chair in peace research on the College of Oslo to take up a challenge on the objectives, processes and indicators of growth on the United Nations College in Tokyo. A central problem was to seek out methods to alleviate the results of battle.

Galtung made vital contributions in direction of a idea of battle and battle transformation. He noticed battle as a chance for optimistic change, and advocated transcending distinction by discovering inventive methods to reconcile variations.

He argued that if the Versailles treaty had been rescinded in 1924, and Germany helped by way of its financial difficulties, the second world struggle and the Holocaust might have been averted. He went on to suggest options for most of the world’s conflicts.

With Eide he had two sons, Harald and Andreas. They divorced in 1968. The next 12 months he married Fumi (Fumiko) Nishimura, they usually had a daughter, Irene, and son, Fredrik.

In 1993 he and Nishimura based Transcend Worldwide, a worldwide community for peace, growth and atmosphere devoted to bringing a couple of extra equitable and fewer violent world by way of battle transformation and mediation.

One success for Transcend got here in 1995, when Ecuador’s chief negotiator took up Galtung’s proposal for a binational nature park to settle the disputed border with Peru. It was integrated within the treaty of Brasilia, which ended the battle in 1998. Galtung additionally proposed the concept of peace journalism, based mostly on balanced reporting of peace and battle, quite than information values based mostly on violence.

Born in Oslo, Johan was the son of Helga (nee Holmboe) and August Galtung, an ear nostril and throat surgeon. He was 9 when Hitler invaded Norway. In April 1940, the German heavy cruiser Blücher, main the assault on Oslo, was sunk by Norwegian torpedoes. Galtung’s father was known as upon to deal with the wounded. Johan remembered asking him whether or not he was tempted to let his scalpel slip somewhat.

“Completely not!” his father replied. “Probably the most important responsibility of a doctor is to save lots of lives, anybody’s life, with out distinction.” Galtung later took this as a norm for peace analysis. It must be a discipline for humanity, not any explicit nation. Prognosis, prognosis and remedy must be the peace researchers’ considerations.

In 1944 Galtung’s father was rounded up with different distinguished Norwegians and despatched to a Nazi focus camp. Day by day his household feared they’d hear of his execution. However he was launched unhurt a month earlier than the struggle ended. Galtung later spoke of his affect, notably of the have to be acutely aware of what you’re doing, quite than simply associate with what you’re purported to do.

As an inspirational, charismatic and eclectic speaker, Galtung related with grassroots peacebuilders who thought outdoors the field. In 2011 he based the Galtung Institute to make sure that his work in “peace idea and peace apply” continued. His contribution was recognised by way of his many honorary levels, visiting professorships and, in 1987, the Proper Livelihood award.

He’s survived by Nishimura and his youngsters.


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