Brandt School Universität Erfurt

Enriching International Conference on “Peace and Conflict Studies: Perspectives from the Global South” at Brandt School

From 3-4 May 2018, Solveig Richter, Juniorprofessor for International Conflict Management, and her team organized an international conference on “Peace and Conflict Studies: Perspectives from the Global South” at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, University of Erfurt.

The main aim of the conference was to identify a unique research agenda from the Global South which takes the agency of scholars from the Southern Hemisphere seriously.  Peace and Conflict Studies were broadly founded in the Northern Hemisphere which strongly influenced the theoretical and conceptual frameworks which were used to study conflicts in the Global South, i.e. conflicts in Africa, Latin America or South Asia. In consequence, scholars from the region were often degraded to mere “experts” for interviews or even objects of research. Up until now, integration of conceptions from both areas and synergetic research projects are usual the exception. The Conference was one of the few in Germany which brought together scholars on peace and conflict studies from the Global South in an in-depth discussion with scholars from the Global North. The uniqueness of the conference is encapsulated in the words of Rita Manchanda, one of the panelists from India, “I look back and I realise how rich and useful it has been for my own work”. It was a truly inclusive venture since the program as well as the composition of panels were developed in close collaboration with young scholars educated both in the Global North and South, namely in Colombia, DRC, Ethiopia, Germany, India and Kenya along with the participants and panelists.

The two day conference comprised of 9 panels ranging from discussions on perspectives from the Global South on Migration, terrorism, gender aspects in the study of peace and conflict studies, human and indigenous rights. It also discussed alternative pathways to peace by focusing on local solutions. Simultaneously identifying the practical and ethical challenges in facilitating the knowledge on and from the Global South. More than 40 panelists including academics, practitioners and policy makers from all around the world including Algeria, Brazil, Bangladesh, Colombia, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Italy, Kenya, Norway, South Africa, and the UK among other countries were part of this academic endeavor which revisited established concepts of peace and conflict studies in the light of the new trends and the rapidly changing context of the current multipolar world.

A major highlight of the conference was the keynote speech by the Nobel Peace Prize Laure-ate Tawakkol Karman at the Collegium Maius on Thursday, May 3 2018 as part of a panel titled “Women for Peace – Between Adaptation and Opposition” chaired by Prof. Richter. The other paneslists included Mirjam Kruppa, Representative of the State of Thuringia for Migration, Integration, and Refugees and Bente Scheller, Director, Regional Office Middle East, Heinrich Boell Foundation. The event was attended by around 150 people.

The conference was funded by the Deutsche Stiftung Friedensforschung (DSF), the University of Erfurt and the State Chancellery of Thuringia.

You can find a full video screening of the speech of Tawakkol Karman here and pictures from the event here. You can also find the final conference program here.