Wolfgang Dietrich (political scientist)

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Wolfgang Dietrich (born 13 September 1956 in Tyrol) is an Austrian peace researcher and political scientist. He is UNESCO Chairholder and director of the MA program for Peace Studies at University of Innsbruck/Austria and visiting professor on many Universities around the world, including the University of Cambridge, the United Nations-mandated University for Peace and the University of Vienna. He is the founder of the Innsbruck School of Peace Studies, a groundbreaking epistemological approach to Peace and Conflict Research in the 21st century.

Dietrich was educated in Austria and England, received a Ph.D. in history and literature at the University of Innsbruck/Austria, in 1980 and a LL.D. at the same University in 1984. In 1990 he was promoted to the degree of "Universitätsdozent" in Political Science according to the Austrian Law of Higher Education (UOG).

Wolfgang Dietrich has spent most of the 1980s in Central America. He was president of the Austrian section of Amnesty International from 1989 to 1991. In the 1990s he did field research in Latin America and the Caribbean, India, Eastern Africa and Southeast Asia. He was director of the European Peace University from 1995 to 1998 and academic director of the Austrian Institute for Latin America[1] from 1995 to 2007. Currently he is program director of the MA Program in Peace, Development, Security and International Conflict Transformation[2] at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, as well as Chairholder of the UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies[3] at the same university and member of the Austrian UNESCO commission.[4]

Research focus[edit]

Wolfgang Dietrich’s research focuses on the history of peace studies, peace and development, peace and postmodernity, cultures of peace, theories of peace, peace and world system theory, as well as, in his newest works, the contributions of humanistic psychology to peace studies.

His best known and often quoted contribution to peace studies is the Call for Many Peaces published in 1998 and republished in 2006.[5] Therein Wolfgang Dietrich dissolves the notion of a homogenous, universal peace in the plurality of the many peaces and thus establishes an approach, which is founded in respect towards the Other, without however deriving thereof the necessity of understanding this Otherness in all its facets or having to share opinions. Peace is thus thought in the sense of "many peaces" as a noun with a plural. He asserts that what peace means differs on closer inspection from culture to culture and the connotations and etymological interpretations of the concept of "peace" do not coincide in different languages, but are an expression of the plurality of worldviews and perceptions of the societies speaking those languages. Thus, peace no longer signifies an arrival in the utopian paradise at the end of all days, but implies a concretely livable societal process of conflict transformation.

Since 2008 Dietrich[6] distinguishes between the energetic, moral, modern, post-modern and trans-rational understanding of peace. He advocates the so-called trans-rational approach, which combines the mechanistic understanding of modern peace with those cosmovisions which are energetically oriented towards the establishment and maintaining of harmonious relations between humans, nature and cosmos. From there he derives his culture-sensitive call for an elicitive approach to conflict transformation. Conflict work to him means facilitating the exploration and creation of new options by the conflicting parties instead of prescriptive conflict resolution by external experts.

This approach inaugurated by Wolfgang Dietrich is didactically implemented and practically applied at the Innsbruck School of Peace Studies[2]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Elective Conflict Mapping, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
  • Variationen über die Frieden, Band 3: Elicitive Conflict Mapping. Wiesbaden, Verlag Springer, 2015.
  • "Foreword", in Hamed, Adham (Ed.): Revolution as a Process: The Case of the Egyptian Uprising. Bremen, Wiener Verlag für Sozialforschung, 2014.
  • Elicitive Conflict Transformation and the Transrational Shift in Peace Politics , London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
  • Interpretations of Peace in History and Culture, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
  • Variationen über die vielen Frieden, Band 2: Elicitive Konflikttransformation und die transrationale Wende der Friedenspolitik, Wiesbaden, VS-Verlag, 2011.
  • (Ed.): The Palgrave International Handbook of Peace Studies: A Cultural Perspective, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
  • Variationen über die vielen Frieden, Band 1: Deutungen, Schriften des UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies der Universität Innsbruck, Wiesbaden, VS-Verlag, 2008.
  • Peaces – an Aesthetic Concept, a Moral Need or a Transrational Virtue? in: Asteriskos. Journal of International and Peace Studies, Volume 1/2, 2006, Seite 25-47.
  • (Ed.): Schlüsseltexte der Friedensforschung/Key Texts of Peace Studies/Textos claves de estudios para la paz, Wien, LIT Verlag, 2006.
  • La marimba: lenguaje musical y secreto de la violencia política en Guatemala; in: América Latina Hoy - Revista de Ciencias Sociales Vol 35. Salamanca/Spain, December 2003.
  • Farewell to the One Peace, in: Peace Review, Journal of Social Justice, San Francisco, Volume 14/1, 2002.


  1. ^ LAI - Lateinamerika-Institut
  2. ^ a b University of Innsbruck - Peace Studies
  3. ^ University of Innsbruck - UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies
  4. ^ Austrian UNESCO Commission
  5. ^ A Call for Many Peaces, in: Dietrich/Echavarría/Koppensteiner (eds.): Key Texts of Peace Studies, Vienna, LIT Verlag, 2006. pages 282-305
  6. ^ Dietrich, Wolfgang: Variationen über die vielen Frieden; Vol.1:Deutungen; VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften Wiesbaden, 2008