1st Edition

Democratic Peace A Historical and Cultural Practice

By Jorg Kustermans Copyright 2024

    This book advances the theory that “democratic peace” does not exclusively refer to an absence of war among democracies but should also be thought of as a particular way of “doing, thinking, and feeling” peace. Democratic peace is not only then a statistical finding or a rhetorical commonplace invoked to justify foreign policy decisions. Rather, the notion also refers to a historically and culturally situated practice.

    Taking this reconceptualization as the theoretical point of departure, the author develops a historical reconstruction of democratic peace laying bare its historical background and assessing its political significance. Tentatively situating it within the cultural history of modernity, he reconstructs how the idea of a democratic peace informed diplomatic action at the onset of the Cold War and during the Arab Spring.

    The primary audience are researchers in international relations, specifically democratic peace theorists, peace researchers, cultural sociologists, and international practice theorists.

    1.Introduction.  2.Finding democratic peace.  3.Social practices.  4.Intermezzo: Henry Maine and the modern invention of peace.  5.A Modern Practice?  6.Cold War.  7.Regicide.  8.Conclusion: Historicization and the future of democratic peace.


    Jorg Kustermans is Associate Professor of International Politics in the Department of Political Science at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. He works at the intersection of international theory, social theory, and historical international relations, with publications both in International Relations (Journal of International Relations and Development, Review of International Studies, Millennium, Global Constitutionalism, International Organization, Cambridge Review of International Affairs, Global Studies Quarterly) and in related fields (Thesis Eleven, Journal of Historical Sociology, Journal of the History of International Law).

    Kustermans provides a bold, insightful and refreshing turn on an over-discussed topic. Drawing upon the intellectual history and hermeneutics of peace, he engages in a fascinating rereading of the democratic peace thesis. From medieval to modern to neomedieval romantic peace, the book underscores the diverse cultural underpinnings of democratic peace that support its more recent manifestations in the Cold War era and 21st century. His somber and penetrating analysis should be read by anyone who wishes to understand the long and complex history of our present peace predicaments.

    Costas M. Constantinou, University of Cyprus

    Peace is the core concept that the field of International Relations paradoxically shies away from. Jorg Kustermans provides a powerful counterpoint. Brilliantly tracing the democratic peace as a historical and cultural practice he invites us to think peace politically.

    Benjamin Herborth, University of Groningen