Hakån Wiberg (1942-2010)

By Nigel Young

Hakån Wiberg, a leading European peace researcher who died recently in Copenhagen, was one of the best spirits in global peace study since the late l960s. He was a child of l960s peace activism, and was a remarkable polymath—a scrupulous, multilingual scholar with a deep scientific inclination. His approach was always skeptical, critical—even detached. His knowledge of Eastern/Central Europe led him, from the l970s, to a special focus on South Slav societies, predominantly the cross-roads state of Yugoslavia. Its demise in the l990s was of deep and special concern, though he had long predicted it. Hakån’s wisdom, humor, humanity, and intuition made him a great social networker, and these skills helped him build up the International Peace Research Association. He was a key figure in the European Peace Research Association and director of the (now defunct) Copenhagen Peace Research Institute: he was a leading figure in Nordic peace studies, globally at the same level as the Bouldings and Anatol Rapoport, and his fellow Scandinavian, Johan Galtung.

Hakån evolved no major theories but his contribution to the field was immense. For 33 years he was on the editorial board of the Journal of Peace Research and played key roles in peace programs in Lund, Oslo, and Dubrovnik. He was the only person I have known who had memorized the whole of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, his favorite poem, from which he would in his inimitable voice frequently intone appropriate passages, even in academic seminars. He was keenly eager for peace research to evolve truly effective alternatives of its own.

By Nigel Young (editor-in-chief: Oxford International Encyclopedia of Peace : OUP, New York and Oxford, 2010)

Peace Magazine Apr-Jun 2011

Peace Magazine Apr-Jun 2011, page 30. Some rights reserved.

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