PRIO Stories

PRIO Stories
Led by Stein Tønnesson
Jan 2019 - Dec 2019

​One of the main activities in the anniversary year is the launch of a series of interviews with or stories about people at the core of PRIO in the early as well as recent years. This project is being headed by Stein Tønnesson, and planned by a committee also consisting of Cindy Horst and Helge Pharo (former chair of the PRIO board).

​From Controversy to Excellence: Peace Research at Sixty

An Introduction by Stein Tønnesson

The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) was founded on 25 May 1959. From the first moment, it was surrounded by controversy over its radical scienfic approaches new creative thinking and promotion of Gandhi-inspired non-violence in a Cold War atmosphere. PRIO sought to foster reconciliation instead of confrontation, and introduced new concepts such as "structural violence" and "positive/negative peace".

In 2009, Gudleiv Forr wrote a book – Strid og fred: Fredsforskning i 50 år (Oslo: Pax) – documenting the origins of PRIO and tracing its subsequent impact over the next 50 years. The book presents three key figures – or heroes – in the history of peace research in Oslo: Johan Galtung (1930–), Nils Petter Gleditsch (1944–) and Hilde Henriksen Waage (1960–).

Johan Galtung was the innovative father of the new field of study, coining its key terms – even "peace research" itself. He always surprised with his unconventional ideas, inspiring generations to come, but eventually left his professorship in Oslo in order to transcend national borders and become a fully accomplished cosmopolitan.

Nils Petter Gleditsch drove most of the controversy around PRIO during the 1970s–80s, when he uncovered and revealed some of the Norwegian government's highly protected Cold War secrets. In the 2000s, Gleditsch transformed himself into the main architect behind PRIO's internationally recognized academic excellence, as a newly convinced adherent to the theories of a "democratic" or "capitalist" peace.

Hilde Henriksen Waage played a key role in the PRIO leadership from the 1990s onwards, built up PRIO's competence on the "missing peace" in the Middle East, and maintained PRIO's controversial public profile through her critical examination of the Norwegian government's role in mediating the Oslo agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993.

For PRIO's 60th anniversary, we asked these prominent figures and other PRIO veterans to look back at PRIO's history through a series of researcher-led interviews. What emerged was a fascinating record of different perspectives on the development of international peace research. The interviews have since been abridged and translated into English, forming a collection of PRIO Stories.

Together, the PRIO Stories constitute a memorial mosaic, shedding new light on how Oslo gained its prominence within a path-breaking field of social science.

PRIO Stories

The below list will likely be slightly expanded, and gradually become clickable, as the interviews are finalized.