On 29 January 2019 the Chair hosted Dr Estrada-Fuentes from Universiteit van Amsterdam and University of Warwick for a seminar on the Magee Campus. Dr Estrada-Fuentes is an applied theatre practitioner and an academic. A seminar open to the public, staff and students discussed the challenging issue of victimhood in the Colombian peace process. The seminar was entitled “Restorative Reintegration: Complex-victimhood and Reparations in Transitional Societies”.
On 16 November 2018, the Chair hosted a seminar on the Magee Campus that focused on “Civil Rights: Lessons from Ireland and US”. It was a timely seminar in that it considered over 50 years on what had been achieved in since the civil rights movements in the US and also in Ireland.
The main speaker at the seminar was Andrew Williams, Director of HECUA. HECUA (Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs) trace back to the 1968 unrest in North Minneapolis following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The urgency and turbulence of the situation prompted Ewald (Joe) Bash, National Youth Director of the American Lutheran Church, and Joel Torstenson, an Augsburg College sociology professor, to build a unique program for college students to understand the nature of the urban crisis. INCORE, under the management of the Chair, partners with HECUA each year to teach and place US students in Derry-Londonderry each year.
To this end, Andrew made the perfect speaker to reflect on the ongoing challenges, particularly in the US, with regard to race. A black person is killed by the state or state-sanctioned violence in the US every 28 hours noted Andrew. One of the most striking quotes Andrew spoke to and developed was ““…because white men can’t police their imagination, black men are dying” (Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric).
On the day Professor Paul Arthur, Professor Emeritus of INCORE and Ulster University, also shared his views and personal experience about the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland. He responded to Andrew’s talk noting that rof Paul Arthur says three words that stuck out were “wounded justice”, “indifference” and “mid-wife”. The hope lies in the growth of civil society that can be the “mid-wife” entrenching civil rights.
On 7 November 2018, The Chair, Dr Coyles and Dr Grant made a presentation entitled “Hidden Barriers and Divisive Architecture: The Case of Belfast” at the Pushing Boundaries Seminar hosted by the School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences. To read more about “hidden barriers” research click here.
Ulster University partnered with Build Up and the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building to host the fifth international Build Peace Conference on 29-31 October 2018. The conference brought together practitioners, activists, academics, policy makers, artists and technologists from across the world to share experience and ideas on using technology, arts and other innovations for peacebuilding and conflict transformation.
The Chair helped organise a showcase event to highlight the work of Ulster staff in the important area of peace and technology. The event took place on 31 October and was entitled “Division. Data. Design. Debate”. This highly interactive session worked with the audience to solve the problems with Ulster University research teams relating to Wellbeing & Data, Societal Division, Social Media & Political Discourse, and Arts & Conflict. The session also included inputs from Ulster MSc and PhD researchers tackling subjects such as the use of memes in conflict, Twitter and its role in conflict, and Alt-right discourses on social media.
On 24 October 2018 the Chair hosted , with the Evens Foundation, a lecture by Bart Brandsma, a leading expert on dealing with the fall-out of polarisation. Brandsma argued that “us versus them” comes in many forms such as EU versus UK, Muslim versus non-Muslim, believers versus non-believers, left versus right, man versus woman, teachers versus parents… the list is endless. Brandsma argued that underneath we can see a universal pattern – and a dynamic of polarisation that we urgently need to understand.
Last week David Coyles, Dr Adrian Grant and Professor Brandon Hamber presented research findings to a Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS) at Stormont on “Hidden barriers and divisive architecture: the case of Belfast”. The research notes that “peace-walls” are particularly symbolic of the role that architecture plays in separating residential communities and a comprehensive scholarship continues to assess their effects, but the research focuses on other barriers in the city. The presentation outlines original findings from a three-year multi-disciplinary academic research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), which extends this current understanding of physical and social division. It reveals new evidence of a distinct and important, yet largely unrecognised, body of divisive architecture; an extensive range of ‘hidden barriers’ embedded in various architectural forms across Belfast’s residential communities. You can download the Policy Brief, click here.
In December 2017 Professor Erin Baines, Associate Professor at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs (SPPGA) at the University of British Columbia, visited Belfast to explore ongoing partnerships and also engage with Ulster University MSc, LLM and PhD students. Professor Baines offered two classes on focusing on her work in Uganda entitled “Children & Futurities” and a second research focused workshop entitled “De-colonial approaches to research on violence”. Wider than this Profess Hamber and Professor Baines outlined some future plans for joint co-operation and research.