Peaceful Societies

Alternatives  to Violence and War



News and Reviews
Peaceful Societies

March 26, 2015. Is Baltistan Peaceful?
A reporter for the Hindustan Times recently decided to visit the village of Turtuk, a Balti community in the Shyok Valley of Ladakh near the border with Pakistan. (Full story)

March 26, 2015. Semai Place Names Help Preserve Forests—and Peacefulness [journal article review]
Semai names for places near their communities suggest their uses of the forests, their historical recollections, their spiritual values, and their commitments to maintaining a nonviolent society. (Full story)

March 19, 2015. Paliyans Obtain Better Housing
A news story in July 2013 described how a Paliyan man had used Facebook as a way of complaining about problems in his colony, and how government officials had quickly responded. (Full story)

March 19, 2015. Some Hutterites Use iPhones
The Stahl Farms, a Dariusleut Hutterite colony in the state of Washington, embraces many modern technologies, particularly those that will improve their agricultural production. (Full story)

March 12, 2015. Archaeological Discoveries and the Media
The National Geographic anouncement on its website last week of the supposed discovery in eastern Honduras of a mythical “lost city” received worldwide publicity. (Full story)

March 12, 2015. Promises to Nubians in Wadi Qurqur
The Egyptian Ministry of Housing is building a resettlement community near the city of Aswan for the Nubian people but it is having a hard time attracting settlers. (Full story)

March 5, 2015. Unicorns, and the Mbuti, Are Troubled by Violence
The Mbuti living in the Ituri rainforest are suffering from violence fostered by illegal mining in their region and the armed rebel gangs who profit from it. (Full story)

March 5, 2015. Unicorns, Peaceful Societies, and Peace Systems
Several scholars deny the existence of peaceful societies, arguing that they are simply a myth, but Douglas Fry characterizes their attitudes as a “unicorn factor,” after the mythological animals. (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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