UNESCO’s Tensions Project (1947–1957) on India and Israel: Peace research in an era of decolonization

Peace &Change, Volume 48, Issue 3, Page 183-204, July 2023.


In the light of the Second World War, the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and decolonization in Asia, the newly established UN organization for education, science and culture (UNESCO) initiated a global research project in 1947. Its main task was to find out how tensions within and between societies can be explained and tackled to secure peace and social justice. Combining peace history with the global history of social sciences and global intellectual history, this article assesses the design and conduct of the Tensions Project in India and Israel at the crossroads of post-fascism and post-colonialism. It finds the reasons for the Project's limited impact in the contradictions between universal knowledge claims and local specificities, its over-confidence in scientific solutions for social problems, interfering nation-building in early postcolonial states, the limited comparability of research, and its neglect of political activism.

This was originally published on Wiley: Peace & Change: Table of Contents.