Peaceful Societies

Alternatives  to Violence and War



News and Reviews
Peaceful Societies

September 3, 2015. Walrus Skulls Used as Soccer Balls
The tradition of hunting walruses in some Inuit communities, such as Igloolik and Hall Beach, remains an important, even a vibrant aspect of their culture. (Full story)

September 3, 2015. The Kadar Are in the News
Ten years ago, during the first full year of this website, almost nothing was reported in the Indian news about the then obscure Kadar society. (Full story)

August 27, 2015. Nubian Singing in Sudan
Researcher Samir Bukab maintains that Nubian music has 12 rhythms, which inspire different meanings for different listeners, though none are symbolic of the warfare that is common among other Sudanese societies. (Full story)

August 27, 2015. Spoken Pennsylvania German Focuses Amish on Humility [journal article review]
One of the features of Amish society that fascinates outsiders is their use of a dialect referred to as “Pennsylvania German,” which is also frequently called “Pennsylvania Dutch.” (Full story)

August 20, 2015. Paliyan and Kadar Dances
Every year on August 9, people in many countries organize events to celebrate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. (Full story)

August 20, 2015. A Malapandaram School Remains Open
A new primary school in Kerala that opened in June to much fanfare for Malapandaram kids, but which was threatened in July with closing due to insufficient funds, has been kept open after all. (Full story)

August 13, 2015. Lepcha Strike Resolved Peacefully
A sit-down strike begun in April by 46 Lepcha paraprofessional teachers protesting their treatment by Gorkha authorities in India’s West Bengal State ended peacefully last week when a face-saving compromise was reached. (Full story)

August 13, 2015. Ladakhi Woman Builds a Trekking Business
Thinlay Chorol, a Ladakhi woman, has challenged a profession that previously had been a male preserve by founding a trekking company staffed entirely by women from rural Ladakh. (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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