Beyond rainbow-ism in South Africa

Dr Wilhelm Verwoerd addressing the audience with the painting “The Black Christ” in the background

On November 2019 the Chair hosted an important civic lecture on the Magee Campus. The lecture was given by Dr Wilhelm Verwoerd, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa entitled “Beyond rainbow-ism in South Africa: a restitutional reading of the ‘Black Christ'”.

The intriguing title referred to a 1962 protest art work in which Albert Luthuli – then president of the African National Congress and Nobel Peace Prize winner – controversially replaces (a typically pale-skinned figure of) Jesus on the cross.  The then Minister of Justice, John Vorster, is portrayed as the soldier in the background, with Prime Minister Verwoerd as the centurion-with-the-spear.

In the lecture, as South Africa’s post-1994 dream of a “rainbow nation” is increasingly being challenged, Wilhelm treated this painting as an icon to help explore some of the deep wounds of the past that have not been fully recognised, let alone addressed, especially within the white “beneficiary community”.  Since the centurion-with-the-spear is also his grandfather he focused on the intergenerational challenge of restitutional shared responsibility with this relational dynamic in the foreground. The lecture was deeply moving and thought provoking, and is available online.

Digital Technology, War and Peace

As part of the BuildPeace Conference that Ulster University hosted the Chair arranged for a special lecture to take place on the Magee Campus on 26 October 2018. The lecture was delivered by Helena Puig Larrauri, Co-founder & Director at Build Up, and was entitled “Digital Technology, War and Peace: Three provocations”. The lectures considers whether digital technology is creating the conditions for more polarisation, discord and (eventually) violence. Or do digital technologies offer new and exciting ways to connect, find common ground and build peace? Drawing on practical experiences of local peacebuilders around the world, the lecture explores the way digital technology interacts with the dynamics that drive war and peace.

The lecture is available below.

Sexual Violence against Men

On 2 October 2018 the Chair hosted a public lecture on the Magee Campus by Dr Chris Dolan, Honorary Professor at Ulster University and Director of the Refugee Law Project. The lecture was entitled “Spheres of Harm: An Exploration of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence against Men”. The lecture focused on conflict-related sexual violence against men, and highlighted some of the major practical, conceptual and disciplinary challenges to dominant models for addressing sexual violence. Dr Dolan proposed an alternative approach to thinking about sexual violence in conflict which has a major impact on enhancing progressive models of gender justice.

Dr Chris Dolan, Honorary Professor at Ulster University and Director of the Refugee Law Project