Local Knowledge and Culturally Contextual Approaches to Peacebuilding: Experiences from India

Local Knowledge and Culturally Contextual Approaches to Peacebuilding

Experiences from India


  • Anjoo Sharan Upadhyaya Global Fellow, PRIO, Norway
  • Ajay Kumar Yadav Banaras Hindu University
  • Priyankar Upadhyaya Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India


peace, conflict resolution, intercultural coexistence, tolerance, diversity, dialogue, devotional, culturally contextual, local knowledge, non-alignment, transformation, inner peace, social peace


The discourses on ‘peace’ and peacebuilding continue to grapple with the unresolved tensions between the proponents of a universal, objective, and singular approach and those who view peace as a plural, subjective, and culturally contextual phenomenon accommodating the images and efforts of indigenous and local knowledge and expertise. Drawing on Indian texts and experiences, this paper steps outside the dominant Western theoretical frameworks to evolve alternate approaches to peacebuilding. We look at the non-dualistic understanding of peace and conflict in Indian traditions, which often reconcile divergent and often contrary viewpoints presenting peace as culturally contextualized rather than a coherent set of universally valid ideas. Apart from some of the leading ancient texts and narratives, i.e. Mahabharata and Bhagavad-Gita, it looks into the beliefs and practices in independent India to discern alternate visions on peace and conflict resolution, including the streams of pacifism and the ethics of accommodation and interreligious coexistence. 

Author Biographies

Anjoo Sharan Upadhyaya, Global Fellow, PRIO, Norway

rofessor Anjoo Sharan Upadhyaya has served as the Senior Professor of Banaras Hindu University for over 46 years in such senior positions as the Professor and Head of Political Science and Dean of Social Sciences (1998-201). She had productive stints as the Director of the Centre for Nepal Studies, Director of the Centre for Integrated Rural Development and an Adjunct Professor at the Malaviya Centre for Peace Research. Professor Upadhyaya did post-doctoral research at the London School of Economics and Political Science and subsequently worked as the Research Director at the UN University Institute of Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity in the UK.  She worked internationally in many prestigious institutions:  Post-Doctoral Fellow at Brown University, Scholar-in-Residence at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, Washington DC and Fulbright Professor at Wellesley College in the USA. She also held Indian Council for Cultural Relations Chair at Tribhuvan University and Dublin University in 2017. 

Professor Upadhyaya has published various critical political science and international relations themes in such leading press as Manchester University Press, Mc Millan, Cambridge University Press and Routledge.  Currently, she serves as the Distinguished Professor of Public Policy at MIT World Peace University and a seat of UNESCO Chair in Pune.. 


Priyankar Upadhyaya, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India

Professor Priyankar Upadhyaya has served Banaras Hindu University (BHU) for over four decades in teaching and leadership positions. His foundational contribution to envisioning and nurturing the Malaviya Centre for Peace Research (MCPR), where he currently holds the UNESCO Chair for Peace and Intercultural Understanding, after steering the interdisciplinary centre to global acclaim. He serves on the UNESCO/ UniTwin Executive Committee of Inter-religious Dialogue and Intercultural Understanding (IDIU). He also has the prestigious Global Fellowship of Oslo's Peace Research Institute (PRIO) since 2018. He is also on the Governing Board of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences (CSSS), Institute of Asian Studies (MAKIAS) and Presidency University in Kolkata. He also serves as the Distinguished Professor and  Senior Advisor to MIT World Peace University (A UNESCO Chaired Institution in Pune). In 2019 Jawaharlal Nehru University designated him for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Chair for Peace and Disarmament. Professor Upadhyaya has led several transnational research projects with the European Union (FP 7), Norwegian Research Council /Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), /Alton John Foundation raising several million for research and development. He has led several MoU-based institutional collaborations with foreign universities, including UN Mandated University for Peace: Costa Rica (2008); Tony Blair Faith Foundation (2012), Peace Research Institute, Oslo, PRIO (2010)); Dublin City University (2016) and the Linnaeus-Palme Exchange with Karlstad University (2014-19). He also serves on the Irish Journal of International Affairs (Dublin City University) editorial board and the Journal of Peace and Conflict (UN University of Peace: Costa Rica).  Professor Upadhyaya has published in journals and books from Oxford University Press, Manchester University Press, Cambridge University Press, Sage, Ashgate and Routledge. His volume 'Peace and Conflict: South Asian Experience' (Cambridge: 2015) and '"Long Walk of Peace, towards a Culture of Prevention (UNESCO: 2018) have received international acclaim. His forthcoming volume, "Interreligious Dialogue: Good Practices, Challenges and Future Directions," will be published by UNESCO (Paris) in 2022.  




How to Cite

Upadhyaya, A. S., Yadav, A. K., & Upadhyaya, P. (2023). Local Knowledge and Culturally Contextual Approaches to Peacebuilding: Experiences from India. Journal of Polity and Society, 15(1). Retrieved from https://journalspoliticalscience.com/index.php/i/article/view/212