The history of modern societies and international relations is usually told as a gradual renunciation of violence. However, there can be no talk of overcoming organized violence. On the contrary, current trends point in the opposite direction: worldwide conflict has increased in intensity again; globalization and technological change make new forms of warlike and terrorist violence possible. These developments point to transformations that challenge existing norms and practices for containing political violence. The Research Center “Transformations of Political Violence” (TraCe) examines these developments with the aim of identifying the consequences for domestic and international peace and developing strategies to contain political violence under changing conditions.
The Research Center “Transformations of Political Violence” is a cooperative project of the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF), the Goethe University Frankfurt, the Justus Liebig University Giessen, the Philipps University Marburg and the Technical University Darmstadt. The idea for this joint project arose in the context of the close cooperation between PRIF and Goethe University (Normative Orders, ConTrust) as well as in the close exchange between the partner institutions involved. The TraCe joint project is an interdisciplinary research initiative funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) (duration: April 2022 - March 2026).
With the establishment of the research center, the participating partner institutions intensify their existing cooperation and bundle their expertise in interdisciplinary research on violence. By developing a thematic profile and establishing permanent series of events, they are creating a regional center of excellence for research, teaching and knowledge transfer that is internationally visible and systematically contributes to the containment and prevention of political violence.
The center brings together disciplinary perspectives from political science, sociology, history and law, social anthropology, social psychology, cultural and linguistic studies, and computer science, as well as various methodological approaches. It systematically examines the interplay of different types and levels of political violence in three thematic research fields as well as in a field of synergies.
Research Field 1 – Forms: Change and Continuity of Political Violence
In research field 1, the fragmented findings on the historical and contemporary change of political violence as well as its causes and consequences are compiled and systematically evaluated. With a focus on the role of global trends (internationalization, technological advances and climate change) for (intra)state dynamics of violence, replication studies and empirical analyses are conducted.
Research Field 2 – Institutions: Prevention and Legitimation of Political Violence
Research field 2 is based on the thesis of the current process of de-institutionalization. The international norms and regimes for the prevention of political violence that emerged in the 19th and 20th centuries are currently confronted with developments such as the non-compliance with existing law and the emergence of new forms of political violence that defy existing institutions. The ambivalence of institutions that not only contain but also justify the use of violence will be empirically examined. Furthermore, the normative question of how new forms of political violence can be captured by institutional regulations is addressed.
Research Field 3 – Interpretations: Attributions of meaning to political violence
Like any social practice, violence is subject to contested and change-producing processes of interpretation. As attributions of meaning, interpretations of violent phenomena operate with individual as well as with intersubjective normative evaluations and thus at the same time (re)construct categorial boundaries. The interpretation of violence is a profoundly political practice that can influence its renewed use or containment. Research field 3 deals with the power and implications of these changing interpretations and justifications of political violence.
Research Field 4 – Synergies: Conceptual and Theoretical Innovations
Research field 4 addresses fundamental conceptual, theoretical, and methodological issues. The findings of research fields 1-3 will be integrated by examining the interactions between the change of forms of political violence, its institutional containment, and its political interpretation. Against this background, the change of concepts and language as well as the affectivity and materiality of political violence will be analyzed.
The TraCe website can be reached here: https://www.trace-center.de/en/.
- Erll, Astrid
- Wolff, Jonas
- Feldeisen, Deborah
- Franken, Henriette
- Schißler, Frederik