Political Violence Summer School: PRSP event!

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  • Author : politicalsettlements Category : academic-event, global-justice-academy, knowledge-exchange, summer-school, transitional-justice-institute

    Tags : Armed Conflict Kenya mass atrocities non-violent resistance political violence post-conflict societies terrorism

From June 24 to 26, 2015, PSRP researchers organised and participated in an innovative new summer school on political violence.  Together with the TJI summer school this launched a series of summer schools to run throughout the programme, dealing with issues relating to political settlements.   The event was organised by the Global Justice Academy organized a Summer School on political violence, in collaboration with the SPS and HCA. Dr Mathias Thaler (Politics and International Relations) and Dr Niall Whelehan (History) planned and convened this event and it was supported by the PSRP, the School of Political Science, and the School of History, Classics and Archeology.  The summer school was attended by 18 doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty from more than 10 countries. Five of those received scholarships and fee waivers to ensure attendance.

The three days were dedicated to a multi-disciplinary and comparative debate about political violence, bringing into a conversation voices from law, history and political theory. Each of these days comprised morning sessions with staff from Edinburgh (Prof Christine Bell, Prof Donald Bloxham) and abroad (Prof Kimberly Hutchings, London; Prof Elizabeth Frazer, Oxford; Prof Manfred Nowak, Vienna; and Prof John Horne, Dublin), as well as afternoon sessions with research-based presentations from the participants.

On the first day, legal perspectives on political violence were examined. Both Prof Nowak and Prof Bell connected theoretical explorations of international law to their professional and personal experiences in post-conflict societies. The second day focused on historical perspectives and brought together reflections on the emergence of paramilitaries in the aftermath of WWI (Prof Horne) with a detailed analysis of escalating mass atrocities, from the Armenian genocide to the Holocaust (Prof Bloxham). Finally, the last day dealt with perspectives from political theory. Prof Hutchings and Prof Frazer made use of innovative methods in participatory teaching to probe ideas on what constitutes political violence and how, if at all, we may draw a line between politics and violence.

The participants’ presentations in the afternoon revealed the manifold and interesting ways in which political violence can be approached in today’s scholarly landscape. From the recruitment strategies of Kenyan terrorist organizations to a critical reading of left-wing endorsements of non-violence in the US to the practical difficulties of contemporary resistance, a broad range of topics was scrutinized during the Summer School. The faculty members offered generous and constructive feedback on the presentations and helped facilitate discussions of wider relevance.

The social programme included an evening event commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, a guided historic tour of Edinburgh and a closing dinner. The feedback from the participants indicates that the Summer School initiative was very well received and could be extended in future years, perhaps again with a multi-disciplinary and comparative orientation.

Mathias Thaler

Mathias.Thaler@ed.ac.uk

Catch up with the Summer School on Twitter by searching for #JUDGEPOL15

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