Defence conversion: Dead duck or still a relevant object of study?

Release date: 2017-07

In Working Paper 7\2017, the author Marc von Boemcken analyzes the evolution of Conversion Studies from the Cold War to the post-Cold War period and discusses some of the reasons for the demise of the discipline in the new millennium. Based on a consideration of the strengths and weaknesses of Conversion Studies in the past, he makes some suggestions on how conversion could inform a systematic field of academic inquiry in the 21st century.

The propositions put forward to this end lean toward a comparatively conservative approach that pays close attention to the historical legacy of conversion as a concept. In sum, Conversion Studies should be a multi-disciplinary, critical and policy-relevant field of research that advocates social change based on analyses of political economies of violence, particularly in the affluent, industrialized and comparatively peaceful- societies of the Global North. At the same time, it ought to abandon its past reliance on a simple civil–military dichotomy and, instead, engage with the more complex issues raised by a focus on 'organized violence'.