In this introduction to the first installment of the Common Knowledge symposium “Peace by Other Means,” the journal's editor questions the assumptions that underwrite standard approaches in the social sciences to the issue of how non-state, tribal societies have dealt with matters of war and peace. He in particular examines and finds wanting the approach that Jared Diamond takes in The World until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? (2012). Whereas Diamond's theme is that modern states can learn much about many things from traditional hunter-gatherer societies, with respect to peacemaking and peace-keeping he finds traditional societies distinctly inferior, and the arguments by which he reaches this conclusion are tautological and also beg the question. This prefatory essay explains that “Peace by Other Means” will analyze and detail non-Western and premodern European means of keeping peace that modern theorists of conflict resolution are reluctant to credit or incompetent to assess.

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