Bruce Bonta.Research Associate
Office: off-campus. Email to schedule meetings via Skype.

Research and Teaching Interests: Peaceful Societies

Office Hours: By appointment


  • BA, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA, History
  • MLS, University of Maine, Orono, Library Service

Bonta began to take an interest in peacefulness iaround 1980 when he began reading works of anthropology about nonviolent societies. They were fascinating because they contradicted the general notion that humanity is intrinsically violent and that only overwhelming state power can ensure peace. Those works prompted many questions: Does conflict always need to be controlled by the possibility of police force? Is international peace best maintained through threats of war? The evidence suggests there may be better ways than threats of force, violence, and warfare.

Penn State, his employer at the time, granted him a sabbatical from his librarian duties in 1992-93 to compile and publish a scholarly bibliography of the extensive literature about peaceful societies. The implications of the literature turned out to be enormous. People ARE able to prevent violence if they really want to. Those societies, however, are all different. They have many problems, they have widely differing beliefs, and they have various ways of actually making sure that peace reigns. But basically, if they can achieve peacefulness, why not the rest of us?

Bonta published some other research articles on the subject, retired from Penn State in February 2000, and developed a scholarly website about the peaceful societies that opened in December 2004. Since then, students and other visitors have been contacting him from around the world, sometimes from the peaceful societies themselves, expressing interest in the issues that the website suggests, such as why some of the societies are better able to retain their traditional nonviolence than others, or why most of them display a high degree of respect for women, even the ones that are male dominated. Bonta is eager to work with anyone interested in this subject.

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  • Bruce D. Bonta, "Contemporary Peaceful Societies: Evidence from the Press," in Nonkilling Media, Joám Evans Pim, ed. (Center for Global Nonkilling, 2013), 219-30.
  • Bruce D. Bonta, “Peaceful Societies Prohibit Violence,” Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research (2013):117-29.
  • Douglas P. Fry, Bruce D. Bonta, and Karolina Baszarkiewicz, “Learning from Extant Cultures of Peace,” in Handbook on Building Cultures of Peace, Joseph de Rivera, ed. (Springer, 2009), 11-26.
  • Bruce D. Bonta, “Peaceful Societies Today: News, Reviews and Clues,” Anthropology News, October 2007: 13-14.
  • Bruce D. Bonta and Douglas P. Fry, “Lessons for the Rest of Us: Learning from Peaceful Societies,” in The Psychology of Resolving Global Conflicts, from War to Peace, Volume 1: Nature vs. Nurture, Mari Fitzduff and Chris E. Stout, eds. (Praeger Security International, 2006), 175-210.
  • Bruce D. Bonta, “Cooperation and Competition in Peaceful Societies,” Psychological Bulletin 121 (1997):299-320.
  • Bruce D. Bonta, “Conflict Resolution among Peaceful Societies: The Culture of Peacefulness,” Journal of Peace Research 33 (1996):403-20.
  • Bruce D. Bonta, Peaceful Peoples: An Annotated Bibliography (Scarecrow Press, 1993).
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  • Member of the Peace and Justice Studies Association