Peaceful Societies

Alternatives  to Violence and War



News and Reviews
Peaceful Societies

January 29, 2015. A Love Jihad in Ladakh
Tensions in Ladakh over the fact that Muslims are producing more babies than Buddhists bubbled to the surface once again last week. (Full story)

January 29, 2015. A New Blog about the G/wi
The San living in the desert of Botswana are still strongly attached to the land, Daniel Koehler wrote last week, a value which they hope their children will embrace. (Full story)

January 22, 2015. The Kadar Preserve their Forests
In December 2006 the government of India passed landmark legislation that recognized the rights of traditional societies to continue to subsist in the forests. (Full story)

January 22, 2015. Some Peaceful People Are Birdwatchers [a tenth anniversary reflection]
I was delighted when Jody and her husband Mark sat down at our table at the Christmas Bird Count dinner on Saturday evening, December 20th. (Full story)

January 15, 2015. New Opportunity for Paliyan Youth
Forest officials in Madurai, in southern India, are preparing to include 16 Paliyan young people in a new eco-tourism venture in the mountains of western Tami Nadu state. (Full story)

January 15, 2015. Update on a Birhor Tragedy
When Ratni Birhor starved to death in her hut in September 2011, the story made headlines due to allegations of government neglect of the Birhor people. (Full story)

January 8, 2015. Review of the Tristan Year
In line with one of their age-old traditions, the Tristan Islanders helped out a Dutch sailor who limped into their harbor with his damaged yacht in mid-December. (Full story)

January 8, 2015. Yanadi Woman Advocates Human Rights
Tupakula Munemma, the young Yanadi woman who made a big impression in India during an election campaign rally in Hyderabad in 2008, is back in the news again. (Full story)


For earlier articles, please visit the listing of older stories on the News and Reviews page.




Peaceful societies are contemporary groups of people who effectively foster interpersonal harmony and who rarely permit violence or warfare to interfere with their lives. This website serves to introduce these societies to students, peace activists, scholars and citizens who are interested in the conditions that promote peacefulness. It includes information on the beliefs of these peoples, the ways they maintain their nonviolence, and the factors that challenge their lifestyles.

Zapotec boyLISTS: A list of peaceful societies is never completely finished or accurate. However, social scientists have convincingly described at least 25 societies around the world in which there is very little internal violence or external warfare. Generalizations are difficult to make accurately, except that most of the time these peaceful societies successfully promote harmony, gentleness, and kindness toward others as much as they devalue conflict, aggressiveness, and violence.

DISCLAIMER: While scholars have clearly identified a small number of societies in which people rarely act aggressively, it must be emphasized that no stamp of approval is intended for the societies included in this website. None of them are utopias. They share many problems with the rest of humanity. That said, however, most of the time they interact in a highly pro-social manner and they successfully avoid both violence within their own societies and warfare with other peoples.

OTHER "PEACEFUL" SOCIETIES: Popular writers and casual observers have also described many other societies as “peaceful,” but often in a more general or romantic sense. This website focuses, instead, on societies where there is significant scholarly literature to support the claims of peacefulness, and where the evidence provided by those scholars appears to be quite convincing.

COMPARISONS: Part of the fascination of this scholarly literature is the way readers can compare the extent of peacefulness and violence in these societies. Their differing ways of developing social, psychological, ethical and religious structures that foster peacefulness should inspire—and challenge—anyone interested in the processes of peace building. This literature suggests several questions:

APPROACHES TO PEACEFULNESS: Most of the nonviolent peoples have a wide range of strategies for promoting interpersonal harmony, building mutual respect, and fostering toleration for individual differences. Many of them are masters at devaluing conflicts, minimizing and resolving them when they do occur, and preventing them from developing into violence. Many of these peaceful societies also devalue competition, self-focus, and other ego-centered social behaviors that they feel might lead to violence.

LITERATURE: While the literature about these societies is small in contrast to the vast number of works about violence and war, there are some notable, highly readable books about peaceful societies and some useful websites that describe a few of them. Most of the best literature, however, is available in books, journal articles, and essays contained in published volumes. A small number of the best journal articles and essays from books are included in the Archive of Articles on Peaceful Societies of this website. Three different encyclopedia articles describe peaceful societies and the literature about them (Dentan 2002; Fry 1999; Sponsel 1996).

ADDITIONS: Additions to the website, as well as news about the peaceful societies, are noted on the News and Reviews page.

Photo: Seven year old Zapotec boy eating a tortilla in the fields of Oaxaca, Mexico, near the village of La Paz. D. P. Fry photo collection.




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