Non-Violence as Strategy

Non-Violence as Strategy

Scholars have thought deeply about the use of violence in society and the utility of force in war. These ideas have traditionally occupied centre stage in strategic thinking, not least owing to Clausewitz. The use and utility of non-violence, although recognised as strategy by some, is not regarded as such by others. Notwithstanding the scholarly differences, the use of non-violence has arguably brought strategic victory to some of its proponents in the real-world. Is there then a case for ‘Non-violence as Strategy’? Here are some questions of interest: What is Strategy? Can opposing concepts of violence and non-violence both constitute strategy? Is there a need to distinguish strategic non-violence from moral non-violence and pacifism? What are the implications for strategic studies, military history, and peace and conflict studies?


Erica Chenoweth, Frank Stanton Professor of the First Amendment, Harvard University

Karuna Mantena, Professor of Political Science, Columbia University

Michael Rainsborough, Professor of Strategic Theory, King’s College London

Isabelle Duijvesteijn, Professor of International Studies and Global History, Leiden University


Peter Feaver, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, Duke University


The aims of the roundtable were twofold. First, in using a broad interpretation of the meaning of strategy and bringing together speakers with diverse research expertise, it provided an intercontinental and interdisciplinary forum to explore new ideas in strategic thought. It also gave an opportunity to clarify/ solidify some key concepts in the field. Second, the roundtable sought to engage with new scholarship on non-violence as well as take stock of both historical and recent political movements to understand how they have informed, and are shaping, conflict, peace, strategy, and (non-)violence.

This event was a collaboration between the Institute for the Study of War and Strategy and the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies based in St Andrews. It was held online on 21 April 2021 and organised as part of the ‘Strategy Bridge’ project by Postdoctoral Research Fellow Sneha Reddy, with administrative support from Jennifer Halley. Please find the event webpage here.