The Chair facilitated a discussion with Dr Wilhelm Verwoerd at the Belfast launch of “Verwoerd: My Journey through Family Betrayals” on 17 October 2019. The discussion focused on key aspects of the book, and particularly Dr Verwoerd’s challenges of coming to terms with the fact that HF Verwoerd, his grandfather, was the South African Prime Minister who is widely considered the architect of the apartheid system. Topics for discussion included key questions of the responsibilities of those who benefitted from the apartheid system, the question of “betrayal” when you take a different path to peacebuilding from those around you, as well as the relevance of the book to wider contexts.
On 9 August 2019, the Chair hosted two guests from Detroit on the Magee Campus who were visiting with the Derry Model Project. The two esteemed guests were Dr. Charles Simmons and Reverend Simmons the founders and directors of The Hush House Black Community Museum and Leadership Training Institute for Human Rights. A fascinating discussion was hosted where the Chair, Professor Elizabeth Crooke and Dr Philip McDermott (Ulster University) all gave inputs, and then the group shared experiences on using museums, memory and heritage to build human rights.
Brandon Hamber continued work on AHRC Project “Screening Violence: A Transnational Study of Post-Conflict Imaginaries” with partners in Newcastle and Bristol University, and works with co-investigators and partners in Algeria, Argentina, Colombia, Northern Ireland and Indonesia.
The “Screening Violence” project partnered with the New Gate Fringe Festival in Derry/Londonderry, which included a screening of the film “Exodus” and focus group discussion after on 31 July 2018. A panel discussing the movement of Protestants from the City side of Derry was then undertaken and filmed in the evening including panelists Gregory Campbell, Eamon McCann, Pauline Gardiner, Niall Gilmartin, and Adrian Grant.
The Chair continued work on AHRC Project “Screening Violence: A Transnational Study of Post-Conflict Imaginaries” with partners in Newcastle and Bristol Universities, and works with co-investigators and partners in Algeria, Argentina, Colombia, Northern Ireland and Indonesia. Further data collection was undertaken in the summer, including the screening of the Colombian film “Falsos Positivos” in partnership with the Dungannon Film Club and a focus group following the film to engage the “social imagination of violence” on 14 June 2018. Film trailer below.
On 7 June 2019, The Chair was invited to a further Social Forum (hosted by Bake Bidea) in the Basque Country. This civil society structure aims to engage the wider society in the peace process and it took place in Biarritz. The Chair gave the keynote address followed by discussion with the wider public focusing on reconciliation and victims issues. The Forum specifically focused on issues in the French Basque Country, as well as reconciliation and victims issues.
On 6 June 2019, The Chair met with Mr J.R. Kim, Director of the Center for North Korean Human Rights Records in the Ministry of Unification in South Korea. The meeting on the Magee Campus focused on sharing lessons between contexts, and also the current state of the peace process.
On 18 April 2019 Ulster University gave an Honorary Degree to Congressman Dr Richard Neal for his services to contribution and promotion of peace in Northern Ireland. The Chair delivered the encomium for Congressman Neal at the event. The degree was conferred upon him by Vice-Chancellor and President of Ulster University, Professor Paddy Nixon at a ceremony attended by Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. As a supporter of the University’s John Hume and Thomas P O’Neill Chair in Peace at the Magee campus and its work since 2015, Congressman Neal addressed students and staff.
The event took part as part of a larger Congressional delegation visiting the border and seeking to gain greater insight into the state of the peace process and Brexit in particular.