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.
The Chair, with the Transitional Justice Institute and INCORE, hosted a successful book launch of “Reconciliation and Building a Sustainable Peace: Competing Worldviews in South Africa and Beyond” by Dr Cathy Bollaert. The book, based on her PhD research at Ulster University (co-supervised by Brandon Hamber, Kris Brown and Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin), explores how competing worldviews impact on intergroup relations and building a sustainable peace in culturally diverse societies. It raises the question of what happens in a culturally diverse society when competing values and ways of interpreting reality collide and what this means for peace-building and the goal of reconciliation.
The Chair was delighted to serve as master of ceremonies for a Life Stories event as part Donegal County Council’s Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Awards on 26 September 2019. The event was part of the Life Stories series was hosted by Prof. Paul Moore. Professor Moore interviewed the four award recipients; Pat Doherty, Patrick C. Dunican Jr., Daniel J Hilferty and playwright Frank McGuinness at our Magee Campus.
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.
In 2019 INCORE partnered with the University of Massachusetts Summer Institute in Northern Ireland to partner and deliver several sessions on the summer school. The Chair worked directly on this helping plan and arrange sessions in both Derry-Londonderry (13 July) and Belfast (16 July). In Derry-Londonderry sessions on memory and conflict were arranged with the Museum of Free Derry and the Siege Museum, and the trip also involved a city tour (delivered by Dr Adrian Grant). In Belfast students undertook a mural tour, and sessions from INCORE and TJI on tourism and peacebuilding (delivered by Dr Maire Braniff), as well as LGBTQ issues and peace (delivered by Dr Fidelma Ashe).
On 26 to 28 June 2019, the Chair travelled to Geneva at the invitation of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR). The Chair was asked to address the concept of reconciliation and how it relates to transitional justice, and human rights. The input took place at the UN in an event entitled “Working Session on Transitional Justice”. The high level meeting included representatives from the UN in a range of their county offices.