Observing conflict, building peace

Alice Konig
Thursday 30 November 2023

In this presentation, Visualising Peace student Robert Rayner shares some of the research he has been doing into neutrality and observation as productive methodologies for peacebuilding. He discusses the principles of EAPPI, the Eccumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, and what the Red Cross is able to achieve through neutrality on conflict zones. He also reflects on more theoretical and philosophical ideas of violence and peacebuilding, on the role of religion in peacebuilding, on the different dynamics of interpersonal peacebuilding, on the role of creativity (through photography, autoethnography and other methods) in visualising peace. You can find a summary of his key sources below the video. Robert has also published some related museum entries on XXX, XXX and XXX.

Dining with Diplomats, Praying with Gunmen: Experiences of International Conciliation for a New Generation of Peacemakers, Anne Bennett 2020 (ISBN) 978 1 99931 415 6

Dining with Diplomats, Praying with Gunmen explores the recent history of Quaker peacebuilding efforts, the principles it is based on and its specific strengths. Much of this peacebuilding has to take place in total confidentiality, with the book offering valuable insight into the experiences of many facilitators, particularly in the context of the Nigerian Civil War and The Troubles. There are multiple strands of Quaker peacework, with Bennett exploring grassroots work to expand the capacity of local peacemakers, rather than top-level negotiation facilitated through the Quaker United Nations Office or Quaker Council on European Affairs. This model of peacemaking involves long-term commitments, utmost confidentiality and deep local understanding; all of these are enabled by Friends’ trusted reputation for honesty and non-violence. The book is a fascinating exploration of the strengths of religious organisations in peacemaking, as well as a reasoned and thorough examination of general good practice for conciliation. 

The Force of Nonviolence: an Ethico-Political Bind, Judith Butler 2020 (ISBN) 978 1 78873 278 9

In this book, Butler explores nonviolence as a central, and necessary, tool in the struggle for social equality. Butler emphasises nonviolence as an ethical – and political – position of strength, rather than a weak or passive personal practice. Butler’s nonviolence is neither religious nor spiritual, but performative and non-individualistic. Understanding nonviolence as political leads to various analytical strengths: Butler assigns “grievability” as the societal measure of a life’s worth and stresses the importance of interdependence for avoiding violent conflict. Realising the interdependence inherent in human life emphasises collaboration and cooperation, as opposed to domination and inequality. This analysis leads to other profound insights, such as the misleading attribution of violence to those who are often the main victims of violence, and the need to move towards an equality of grievability.

Comparing Galtung’s Theory of conflict resolution with Freud’s Psychoanalytical Theory, Antonino Drago 2023

Link: https://doi.org/10.5209/ciyc.89289https://www.transcend.org/tms/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/Comparing-Galtungs-Theory-of-Conflict-Resolution-with-Freuds-Psychoanalytical-Theory.pdf  

This article examines Galtung’s conceptualisation of ‘A-B-C’ conflicts and their similarity to Freud’s psychoanalytic approach. The A-B-C triangle models human behaviour in conflict as an interdependent interaction of the attitudes, behaviours and contradictions within and between different participants. A conflict can start at any of the three points, but inevitably expands to encompass an interrelation of all three. Drago posits that (successful) Freudian psychoanalysis is an archetypal A-B-C conflict between, and within, the patient and analyst. The conflict’s resolution is particularly striking, with a fusion of the patient and analyst’s triangles during sessions: the analyst contributes the resulting attitudes, the patient contributes the behaviours, and the contradictions a synthesis of both. The article then further discusses the psychoanalytic repercussions of this. Drago emphasises the importance of Galtung’s theory for Freudian theory and vice versa. Crucially, he stresses non-classical logic as key to overcoming both mental and external conflicts: the A-B-C triad cannot be collapsed into a set of three conflicting binaries, instead, peacebuilders must approach conflicts holistically.

The Work of EAPPI in Palestine (podcast by PAX, 2020)

Link: https://open.spotify.com/episode/2ierWNlhI511uTl0VxOGYF?si=05784307b8b949eb
The podcast episode comes from PAX, a Dutch peacemaking organisation, that, among other things, sends volunteers as Ecumenical Accompaniers to Palestine and Israel, as part of the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). It briefly explores the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict, before interviewing Jack Munayer a Palestinian Christian EAPPI volunteer about the programme. EAPPI volunteers are human rights observers, primarily at border crossings and settlements. The podcast explores the non-religious nature of the programme and its advocacy work, before continuing to interview Annalise, a Dutch volunteer. They talk about reporting on settler attacks and harassment and their specific impact on school children. Annalise describes the frustration of not being able to intervene (for example, when children are being arrested) and how it can feel like EAPPI is doing nothing in that moment; however, she references agitating for political change by relaying their experiences as imperative. Even with their occasional impotence, EAPPI still operates hot lines for Palestinians to help facilitate humanitarian deliveries, navigating blacklisting and opening closed checkpoints. 

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