PRIO’s State Feminist: Helga Hernes

Book chapter

Harpviken, Kristian Berg (2022) PRIO’s State Feminist: Helga Hernes, in Lives in Peace Research: The Oslo Stories. Singapore: Springer (267–298).

Read the book chapter here (Open Access)

Helga Hernes (b. 1938), born in Germany and educated in the US, moved to Norway in 1970 and came to PRIO in 2006, after retiring as a professor at the University of Oslo. Commonly known as Norway’s “state feminist,” she became the doyen of PRIO’s gender research. In this interview she shares her memories from her childhood in Germany through her US experience to her career as a Norwegian diplomat, academic and overseer of intelligence services.

This open access book explains how PRIO, the world’s oldest peace research institute, was founded and how it survived through crises. The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) is the world’s oldest independent peace research institute. In this book, a great number of its researchers and associates, including Johan Galtung, Ingrid Eide, and Mari Holmboe Ruge, who founded the institute back in 1959, tell the stories of their roles in inventing and developing peace research. They reflect on their personal experiences with peace and conflict, tell what drove their peace engagement, and discuss the balance sought in the field between the cold dictates from academic rigor and the hot pursuit of peace, a desire for research to make a positive difference. Most of the chapters are interviews where one colleague interviews another. Some are self-reflective essays, while others are memorial essays written about a peace researcher who has passed away. Taken together, the book presents a lively picture of a thriving world-leading research environment and a wealth of conflicting or mutually reinforcing perspectives on war, violence, conflict, conflict management and resolution, negotiations and mediation, peacemaking, peace building, and the contested concept of peace.

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