1.We cannot build the future if we do not have a common vision for the future;
2.We cannot build the future if we do not truly understand the past;
3.We cannot build the future without a holistic and collaborative approach; and
4.We cannot build a future without dealing with dominant masculine cultures.
The Chair and INCORE are privileged to be associated with the Scholars at Risk programme. Today we were able to host Rezvan Moghaddam from Iran. Rezvan Moghaddam is a women’s rights activist, researcher and co-founder of the One Million Signature Campaign. She has set up various associations, groups and committees to empower women on issues of peace, environment, health and gender. She has published numerous articles, participated in conferences, seminars and international gatherings, where she has presented papers on women’s issues. She is one of the founders of International Campaign Against Violence in Iran (ICAV). She spoke today at a seminar at INCORE on the Role of Women`s Movement in Iran.
Through the prism of Northern Ireland, this article explores the function of existing and proposed archives within societies emerging from conflict, and highlights their potential in adding complexity to understanding conflict and challenging dominant narratives. The article outlines how, despite progress since the Northern Ireland peace accord in 1998, efforts to deal with the past and human rights violations have been piecemeal and politically contested. In the absence of a comprehensive approach to the past, testimony gathering, initiated ‘unofficially’ at a community level, has provided opportunities for individuals’ experiences of the conflict to be documented and acknowledged. The recent Stormont House Agreement (2014) seeks to establish an Oral History Archive as a central repository for individuals to ‘share experiences and narratives related to the Troubles’. The article discusses the challenges in developing this ‘official’ archive, and the problem of reconciling competing historical narratives of the past. This is contrasted against the growth in bottom-up ‘storytelling’ or testimony work. The article argues for supplementing the official process with wider testimony gathering processes directed by and located within community contexts. It is argued that the deliberate juxtaposition of contrasting horizontal or inter-community narratives held by different local parties may allow for the emergence of a more complex and inclusive narrative of the past, rather than attempts to impose a shared vertical narrative, which is subject to either further contestation or uncomfortable compromise.
Importantly this article was part of a special edition of the Journal of Human Rights Practice focused on the issue of archives and their role in transitional justice processes. Gráinne Kelly, Brandon Hamber and colleagues from swisspeace, Elisabeth Baumgartner, Briony Jones, and Ingrid Oliveira, were the guest editors of the journal. The journal special issue was timely as it meant that several high level academics and practitioners were able to distribute their research on the topic of archives focusing on a range of places: Northern Ireland, Kosovo, South Africa, Canada, etc.
The paper can be downloaded herefor those with academic access, or alternative email Professor Hamber for a copy.
On 14 January 2016, Professor Brandon Hamber gave the closing remarks at the postgraduate conference on Masculinities, Violence and Post Conflict, Ulster University. The conference was organised by PhD students in Transitional Justice Institute (TJI), INCORE and IRISS, and supported by International Alert, Conciliation Resources, Saferworld, and the Political Settlements Research Programme.
On 12 January 2016 the Chair travelled to Berlin to the Sigmund Freud University where he was asked to deliver a public lecture as part of their social psychology series. The title of the lecture Professor Hamber gave was “Ambivalence as a goal of reconciliation”. The lecture explored how for victims of political violence they are often asked to live with ambivalence in a productive way, i.e. continue their lives after a peace process despite the
suffering and loss they have experiences. Similarly, Hamber argued that societies emerging from conflict need to find collective social and political ways of living with the ambivalences of the past. This type of thinking is difficult to reconcile with the approach of governments and policymakers, as it is hard to imagine how one can create policy for long-term (perhaps never-ending) processes for which there is no quick fix.
On 14-15 Dec 2015, the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace (GHFP) with partners the Fetzer Institute brough ttogether a small group of international experts at Highley Manor House in Sussex for a first dialogue in this series to consider the nature of peace and how to apply this understanding in determining the structures, systems and institutional cultures required to bring about a common political vision of peace internationally and globally. The insights from each dialogue and learnings from the Spirit of Humanity Forum 2017 will be disseminated more widely in different forms of report in 2016/7, including volumes of edited books to be published by mainstream publishers. Professor Hamber participated in the dialogue.
On the 3rd of December 2015 the documentary trailer of the film “Beyond Walls” was launched. The documentary is the next phase of an exciting international conflict transformation project, delivered in partnership between INCORE (Professor Hamber) and Beyond Walls (CIC) (Alistair Little and Wilhelm Verwoerd, Directors).
From the end of 2012 until mid-2014 this project gathered learning from experienced practitioners and participants (mostly from veteran/former combatant backgrounds) promoting peace/reconciliation/humanisation in places of deep seated political conflict. Filmed reflective workshops were held and interviews conducted in South Africa, Israel-Palestine, Northern Ireland/North of Ireland and Ireland. The extensive film footage and written transcripts from these workshops and interviews provide rich, real life material on the challenges of undertaking peace/reconciliation/humanisation work.