In early September the Chair, Professor Brandon Hamber, undertook a visit to Colombia (17-24 September 2015).
At the time, the Colombian government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) were in the midst of negotiations to end a conflict that has spanned some 50 years.
The conflict has seen the death of some 250,000 people (80% civilians) and the displacement of 6.5 million people. Formal talks began in November 2012 in the Cuban capital, Havana. Several accords have been reached and the final agreement is set to be signed in 2016.
Professor Hamber was invited to Colombia at the request of the City of Valledupar, one of the cities (some 1.5 hours north east of Bogota by plane) that was most affected by conflict. Under the leadership of Mayor Fredys Miguel Socarras Reales, a series of conferences, presentations, and workshops is being organized, which will focus on preparing the regional implementation of the peace.
Professor Hamber addressed a range of community members (about 150-200) over a two-day process to discuss comparative peace lessons at a community level. He also met with the Mayor. After the community engagements he spent some days in Bogota meeting some key players in the peace process and sharing lessons with them and different civil society members.
The trip ended with a presentation to about 200-300 training lawyers at Libre University in Bogotá as part of conference on Reconciliation, Civil Law and Commissions. Again the focus was on comparative lessons from Northern Ireland.
This is an important publication as it outlines key tenants of how the issue of could be dealt with in post-conflict settings, a very under-explored area. The article outlines three fissures evident in the embryonic scholarship, that is the privileging of direct violence and its limited focus, the continuities and discontinuities in militarised violence into peace time, and the tensions between new (less violent) masculinities and wider inclusive social change. The article argues for the importance of making visible the tensions between different masculinities and how masculinities are deeply entangled with systems of power and post-conflict social, political and economic outcomes. An analysis of masculine power within and between the structures aimed at building the peace in societies moving out of violence is considered essential. The article argues for an analysis that moves beyond a preoccupation with preventing violent masculinities from manifesting through the actions of individuals to considering how hidden masculine cultures operate within a variety of hierarchies and social spaces.
Masculinity is now a developing area and the Chair’s work has contributed to this, and Professor Hamber will also attend a conference in Oxford on the issue in October 2016.
The paper can be downloaded here for those with academic access, or alternative email Professor Hamber for a copy.
On returning from Washington DC, Professor Hamber spoke on 12 September 2015 at the Irish Association for Economic, Cultural and Social Relations, Stephen’s Green-Hibernian Club in Dublin on the topic of “Transforming Societies After Political Violence”. The lecture focused on the challenges of building peace in societies emerging from conflict and emphasised the importance of creating context-driven approaches to political and social trauma. The lecture also focused on how dealing with the past remains a key aspect of the Northern Ireland peace process that still needs to be grappled with.
On 9 September 2015 the Chair attended an event to inaugurate the John J. Sweeney Scholarship Scholarship in Peace at the Hay-Adams Hotel, Washington. The scholarship, supported by the AFL-CIO, will provide an opportunity for US-based student with union connections to undertake the INCORE MSc. in Applied Peace and Conflict Studies. With the Development and Alumni Office at Ulster University, the Chair has been involved with the fundraising campaign.
At the event Professor Hamber introduced the first Sweeney Scholar, Jennifer Johnson. After growing up in South Bend, Indiana, Jennifer enlisted into the United States Navy as a boiler technician on board the USS Samuel Gompers in California, and then on board the USS Simon Lake in Italy. Upon honorable fulfillment of a 4 year enlistment, Jennifer returned to Indiana to receive a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at Indiana University South Bend through the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. An internship with the Systems Department in the United States Federal Court in the Northern District of Indiana led to full-time employment with the Clerk’s Office where she held the positions of Case Administrator, Operations Manager (Southern District of Indiana), and Courtroom Deputy. In 2015, Jennifer left the Court to continue her education with the University of Ulster in the MSc Appliced Peace and Conflict Resolution program.
He was born in South Africa and currently lives in Belfast. In South Africa he trained as a Clinical Psychologist at the University of the Witwatersrand and holds a Ph.D. from the Ulster University. Prior to moving to Northern Ireland, he co-ordinated the Transition and Reconciliation Unit at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation in Johannesburg. He co-ordinated the Centre’s work focusing on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
He was a visiting Tip O Neill Fellow in Peace Studies at INCORE in 1997/1998. He was also the recipient of the Rockefeller Resident Fellowship (1996) and was a visiting fellow at the Centre for the Study of Violence in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In 2010-2013 he was a Mellon Distinguished Visiting Scholar at University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He has been awarded The Paul Harris medal for contributions to peace by Rotary (2013), and was listed as one of the Top 100: The most influential people in armed violence reduction by the Action on Armed Violence Network (2013/2014).
He has consulted to a range of community groups, policy initiatives and government bodies in Northern Ireland and South Africa. He has undertaken consulting and research work, and participated in various peace and reconciliation initiatives in Liberia, Mozambique, Bosnia, the Basque Country and Sierra Leone, among others.
He has lectured and taught widely, including, on the International Trauma Studies Programme at Colombia University, New York and the Post-War and Reconstruction Unit, University of York; and at the University of Ulster.
He has written extensively on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the psychological implications of political violence, and the process of transition, masculinity and reconciliation in South Africa, Northern Ireland and abroad.