Peace cultures thrive on and are nourished by visions of how things might be, in a world where sharing and caring are part of the accepted lifeways for everyone.

Elise Boulding

The purpose of this website is to promote peacefulness through the study of societies that are already peaceful. The design and colors attempt to reflect the quiet ways and natural environments of many of the world’s nonviolent peoples. It opened on the Web as an independent, scholarly website in January 2005 and eleven years later, in January 2016, it moved under the umbrella of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), where it is now hosted by the Department of Anthropology within the College of Arts and Sciences.

The website supports one of the goals of the department: to foster the study of peace, justice, and ecology within the field. The heart of the Peaceful Societies website, the Encyclopedia of Peaceful Societies, provides brief descriptions of 25 groups chosen because they have been able, either at the present time or in the recent past, to effectively diffuse anger, avoid and resolve conflicts, build respect for others, take their beliefs in nonviolence seriously, and cherish the other essential ingredients of peacefulness within and between communities. News and reviews are published weekly that expand and modify our understandings of the ways nonviolence plays out in the real worlds of those 25 societies. The website also contains an extensive bibliography on peaceful societies.

Two epigraphs capture the essence of this site. “Respect for the rights of others is peace,” a statement by the great nineteenth-century Zapotec Mexican leader Benito Juárez, epitomizes much of the literature about peaceful societies. “Anything that exists is possible,” by Kenneth Boulding, one of the foremost peace scholars of the 20th century, expresses our conviction that since peaceful societies exist in many parts of the world, humans may be able to develop cultures of peace everywhere.

This website is honored to have had Dr. Elise Boulding as Website Patron. After a long career as an internationally-prominent peace scholar, teacher, and social activist, Dr. Boulding continued, during her retirement years, to conduct workshops that imagined a world at peace. She was inspired by the example of the peaceful societies and, in turn, inspired us by incorporating some of the literature of this field into her book, Cultures of Peace (2000), a milestone publication.

Four advisers provide generous input into the philosophy, contents and design of this site. In addition, three technical consultants have given a great deal of their time and expertise, and without their patience and remarkable skills this site could not have come about. Of course, the ultimate responsibility for the content lies with the website’s author. We look forward to the reactions, comments, questions, and suggestions for improvements from our visitors in further developing this project.


Website Patron

Elise Boulding. Ph.D., July 6, 1920 – June 24, 2010. Professor of Sociology, Emerita, Dartmouth College. Books: Cultures of Peace: The Hidden Side of History (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2000); The Future: Images and Processes (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1995—co-author); The Underside of History: A View of Women Through Time, revised edition (Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1992); One Small Plot of Heaven: Reflections on Family Life by a Quaker Sociologist (Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill Publications, 1989); Building a Global Civic Culture: Education for an Interdependent World (New York: Teachers College Press, 1988) and numerous others. Elise was active in numerous local, national, and international non-governmental organizations, such as: International Peace Research Association (Secretary General, 1989-91); Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (International Chair, 1967-70); Consortium on Peace, Research, Education and Development, and many other groups.

For additional information about Elise Boulding, please see the book review on this website of Elise Boulding: A Life in the Cause of Peace by Mary Lee Morrison (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005). Elise was a prominent Quaker and her own spiritual autobiography, Born Remembering, was published in 1975 as a Pendle Hill pamphlet.


Website Author

Bruce D. Bonta. MLS, 1969 (University of Maine). Research Associate, Department of Anthropology, University of Alabama at Birmingham; Associate Librarian Emeritus, Pennsylvania State University. Book: Peaceful Peoples: An Annotated Bibliography (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1993). Several journal articles and papers about peaceful societies. Website


Website Advisers

Robert Knox Dentan. Ph.D., 1965 (Yale University). Professor, Department of Anthropology, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Books: The Semai: A Nonviolent People of Malaya, (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1979); Co-author, Malaysia and the Original People: A Case Study of the Impact of Development on Indigenous Peoples (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1997). Numerous articles in journals and scholarly books on the Semai, peaceful societies, and other subjects. Other research interests: cultural anthropology, social organization, ecology, ritual; Southeast Asia, Africa. Website.

Douglas P. Fry. Ph.D., 1986 (Indiana University). Professor and Chair, Anthropology Department, University of Alabama, Birmingham. Books: War, Peace, and Human Nature: The Convergence of Evolutionary and Cultural Views (Oxford University Press, 2013); The Human Potential for Peace: An Anthropological Challenge to Assumptions about War and Violence (Oxford University Press, 2006); co-editor, Keeping the Peace: Conflict Resolution and Peaceful Societies around the World (New York: Routledge, 2003); co-editor, Cultural Variation in Conflict Resolution: Alternatives to Violence (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1997). Numerous articles in journals and scholarly books on the Zapotec, peaceful societies, peace systems, and other subjects. Other research interests: conflict studies, conflict resolution, aggression, applied anthropology, human ethology & evolution. Website.

Dale Hess. Ph.D., 1968 (University of Washington). Model Development Group, Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre, Australian Government (Retired). Peace and nonviolence publications: co-author, The Paradox of Economic Growth and Inequity (Hampton, Victoria, Australia: Victorian Association for Peace Studies, 1994); co-editor, The Peace Dossier Series, 1982 – 1992 (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: Victorian Association for Peace Studies, 1992). Helped organize courses on appropriate technology, hunger, rebuilding Vietnam, peace conversion and “Our World in Crisis.” Member of the Australia Yearly Meeting Peace and Social Testimonies Committee, the Board of the Herb Feith Foundation, Pax Christi, Bayside Oxfam Group, and the Victorian Association for Peace Studies.

Leslie E. Sponsel. Ph.D., 1981 (Cornell University). Professor Emeriitus, Department of Anthropology, University of Hawaii at Manoa. Books: co-editor, The Anthropology of Peace and Nonviolence (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1994); editor, Endangered Peoples of Southeast and East Asia: Struggles to Survive and Thrive (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000); other books and numerous articles in journals and scholarly books on tropical deforestation, Buddhism, ecology, indigenous societies and other subjects. Other research interests: Thailand, Venezuela, foraging societies, tropical forests, conservation of biodiversity, anthropology of religion, spiritual ecology, sacred places, cultural change, and advocacy anthropology. Websites: Website; Spiritual Ecology (RISE).


Technical Design and Support Staff

Website design and technical support: Christopher Pow, Web Designer, Digital Media and Innovative Learning, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Technical Consultants, 2004 – 2016: Matthew Albright. Senior Computer Scientist, Adobe Systems Inc., San Jose, CA, and Jeffrey T. Suydam, January 15, 1970 – June 17, 2017.