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Peace History Society Lifetime Achievement Award, 2021
Peter van den Dungen, University of Bradford, U.K.

It is with great pleasure that the Peace History Society honors, for the first time, a scholar-activist based outside North America with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Peter van den Dungen has recently retired after over thirty years of service to the University of Bradford’s Department of Peace Studies in the United Kingdom. If the establishment of lasting peace requires an international viewpoint rather than narrow nationalism, Peter embodies that perspective in his life and his work.

Born in the Netherlands, educated in Belgium, Britain, and elsewhere, and teaching in Spain, Austria, and Britain, Peter has published studies of peace history in four languages: English, Dutch, French, and German. He has been an active member and leader of numerous peace history organizations around the world, including PHS, from the 1970s until the present.

Peter’s publications in the field of peace history are so numerous that we can note only a sampling here. Among them are two collections he compiled with previous recipients of PHS’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1988, Peter and Charles Chatfield co-edited Peace Movements and Political Cultures, a collection of essays presented at a conference in Austria organized in large part by the Conference for Peace Research in History (PHS’s original name). Fifteen years later, in 2003, he and Lawrence Wittner co-edited a special issue on peace history of the Journal of Peace Research. Peter also contributed to two publishing projects, three decades apart, in which PHS members played leading roles: the Biographical Dictionary of Modern Peace Leaders (1985), and Opposition to War: An Encyclopedia of U.S. Peace and Antiwar Movements (2018). Currently he is contributing to the Oxford Handbook of Peace History which is being co-edited by four other PHS members.

Peter’s expertise in peace history is broad and several of his specialties have made enduring contributions to our field. One is his research about scholars and activists who pioneered the study of peace movements. Two such essays appeared in Peace & Change. “The ‘Scientific Pacifism’ of Raphael Dubois: A Curious Episode in the History of Peace Research” (1986) discussed a French researcher at the turn of the last century who studied earlier movements for peace. “On the Historiography of Peace” (1995), ostensibly a comment on Ralph Summy and Malcolm Saunders’ seminal “Why Peace History?” in fact presented original research on peace research efforts from the 1910s to the 1930s. Peter has written widely about Bart de Ligt, a Dutch peace activist and researcher who wrote in the 1930s what Peter called “a pioneering global history of radical pacifism and anti-militarism.”

A second area of Peter’s attention is the history of the Nobel Peace Prize and some of its distinguished recipients. This includes, among others, Red Cross founder Henry Dunant (1901), Bertha von Suttner, the first female prize-winner (1905), Austrian publisher Alfred Fried (1911), and Britain’s Lord John Boyd Orr (1949). Such work led Peter to become involved in the Société Henry Dunant in Geneva and in the Bertha von Suttner Peace Institute Foundation at The Hague; he has served the latter as chairperson since 2019. This aspect of Peter’s scholarship and activism has also enriched PHS publications. Three such essays appeared in Peace & Change: “What Makes the Nobel Peace Prize Unique?” (2001); “The Centenary of Die Friedens-Warte: A Note-Worthy Anniversary in Peace Publishing” (2002), about the journal which Fried edited; and “Irwin Abrams: Historian and Champion of the Nobel Peace Prize” (2005). (This last essay began as a presentation at the American Historical Association on a panel organized by PHS honoring Abrams.) Moreover, Peter has contributed four book reviews about the Nobel Peace Prize and prize-winners to our journal, the first of which appeared in July 1996 and the latest (and perhaps not the last!) in April 2021.

A third element of Peter’s peace history and peace research work which has proved so significant has been in the realm of public history, beginning with peace museums and expanding to peace tourism. Beginning in the 1980s, with support from a Quaker charity, Peter was key to the establishment and continued functioning of the International Network of Museums of Peace (INMP), with the one he and his Peace Studies Department helped set up in Bradford serving as somewhat of a model for others. Peter has edited the INMP’s newsletter for decades, and many of his presentations at the group’s conferences – which have been held in Austria, Belgium, Spain, Japan, South Korea, and elsewhere – have been published. Peter has often been called upon to speak at the opening of peace museums or the inauguration of a locality’s “peace trail”; such lectures have taken him from The Hague to Linz, Austria, to Atlanta, Georgia, and beyond.

Public history relating to peace movements, of course, shades into peace activism. Peter’s 2014 keynote address at a strategy conference of Kooperation für den Frieden (Cooperation for Peace, an umbrella organization of German peace groups), delivered on the centenary of World War I, surveyed “100 Years of War – 100 Years of Peace and the Peace Movement.” This impressive address, delivered in German, was subsequently published in three languages by German, French, and American antiwar organizations, including on the website www.WorldBeyondWar.org. (That website has also posted Peter’s essay, “Peace Tourism.”)

Peter’s service to the cause of peace history has been so extensive that it could not be limited to, or even primarily based on, work with the Peace History Society. Nevertheless, he has served as a major link between our work, based in North America, and the activity of peace historians in Europe and elsewhere. In addition to his own frequent publications in Peace & Change, Peter was for many years on the journal’s Editorial Board. He was also, for decades, on PHS’s International Advisory Board. In 1999, Peter played a major role (along with Anne Kjelling, of the Norwegian Nobel Institute) in facilitating the involvement of a dozen PHS members in a major conference commemorating the 100th anniversary of the first Hague Convention for peace, which attracted thousands of participants from around the world. Peter chaired a PHS session at this conference on Polish industrialist and peace activist Jean de Bloch, and he led one of his peace tours of the city for our members. Peter has also kept PHS members abreast of work on peace conferences, museums, and tours in Britain and the European continent through regular updates in PHS News, with seven such reports from 1999 to 2020.

For his efforts over thirty-five years – and despite the distance across the Atlantic Ocean – to participate in PHS activities and to enliven our publications, and for his inestimable contributions since the early 1970s to build a world-wide community of scholars and activists furthering peace history, and for his consistent attention to disseminating that scholarship to a wider public, the Peace History Society is honored to present a Lifetime Achievement Award to Peter van den Dungen.

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