Culture, Conflict and Post-Conflict symposium

Marlene Steyn. Blended brothers, 2011; Oil and mixed media on canvas, 168 x 151, 5 cm. Image used with permission of the artist. ©Marlene Steyn

Art and culture is often given some prominence amongst the tools that are used to reconcile communities and to help deal with personal and collective trauma. Why is that the case, how effective is it and what complexities surround its use?

On 9th and 10th September 2014, AHRC Care for the Future: Thinking Forward through the Past and the Cultural Value Project held a symposium on Culture, Conflict and Post-Conflict. The symposium brought together leading researchers and practitioners across disciplines to consider the role of arts and cultural practices and performances in the process of post-conflict resolution and transformation. Topics were explored with special reference to conflict and post-conflict situations within the boundaries of states, primarily South Africa, Northern Ireland and Bosnia.

Programme – Culture, Conflict and Post-Conflict symposium (opens on same page)

Those You Pass on the Street

Before the show: the amazing Paul Kennedy, Carol Moore, Vincent Higgins & Maggie Cronin.

In addition to excellent talks from our keynote speaker and panel presenters, we were very lucky to have the multi-award-winning Kabosh theatre company come from Belfast to perform ‘Those You Pass on the Street’ by Laurence McKeown; the play looks at the issue of dealing with the past and the legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland. The superbly-wrought performance and the following discussion added a great deal to the event, providing an anchor for discussion and an example of best practice for theatre work in conflict resolution. Take a look at our interview with artistic director Paula McFetridge for her (absolutely fascinating) reflections on Kabosh’s work on conflict resolution in Northern Ireland.

Feedback on the event has been very positive, with participants grateful for the opportunity to talk about these issues across disciplines and national boundaries. A good amount of networking took place during the event, and academics and practitioners alike believe that the event will inform their future work in this area. The event has already inspired Andrew Thompson to write a piece for The Conversation on ‘Why we must rethink the cultural context of economic success’ (online soon).