PACSA Conference 2019 – Belfast

PACSA 2019 CONFERENCE: Creativity, Resistance and Hope: Towards an Anthropology of Peace

3 – 5 October 2019

In a time of intersecting crises and conflicts, widespread concern persists about the restoration or maintenance of peace in and between many societies. With the continued growth of global insecurities and their impact on political and social worlds, an anthropology of peace has much to offer in terms of its methodological and conceptual approaches to conflict resolution, transition and peace-building.

The 7th PACSA conference sets out to re-examine the position of anthropology in peace and conflict studies. It shall do so through the lens of anthropological research on and with creative practices as articulations of resistance, hope and transition. With a wide range of session formats, the 2019 meeting creates a space for interaction, exchange of thought and discussions that allow PACSA and EASA members from other networks to build new alliances and tease out ideas for mutually beneficial future projects. Keynote lectures by Prof. Victoria Sanford and Prof. Richard Baxstrom as well as a mix of both panel sessions and non-traditional conference formats (such as workshops and performances, film-discussions, laboratories) will encourage participants to work with creative formats that go beyond traditional ways of anthropological knowledge production. In so doing, the conference will unpack the meaning of visual, bodily and spatial representations of and resistance to violence, as well as creative ways of writing about peace and conflict.

Post-conflict societies, or people and communities coping with war, forced displacement and other conflict situations, often show a great deal of creative and imaginative responses to both conflict and transition. In these struggles, those concerned seek to find ways to resist, to survive, and to establish new modes of living as a society as a whole. During these negotiations, socio-political hopes and aspirations for the future anchored in cultural and artistic creativity aspire to lead a way to sustainable peace and recreation. Publically visible and often provocative, they also challenge societies to communicate about a given collective memory or indeed, create visions of social and political transformation.

During the 2019 PACSA conference, we will discuss theoretical and methodological insights on peace from anthropological research– bringing them together with concepts of creativity, imagination, hope and artistic articulations in conflict, resistance, memory and peacemaking by attending to questions such as, but not limited to:

  • What are the creative means individuals and societies employ to contribute to, comment upon and challenge visions of the past and future in conflict and transition contexts?
  • To what effect and meaning could anthropology adapt creative writing, visual representations and other means of artistic expressions to contribute insights on peace and conflict within and beyond academia?
  • How can we understand peacebuilding, transitional justice and conflict resolution through a lens of hope, creativity and imagination?
  • In exploring creative practices in various settings, what new visions, institutions and forms of resistance do we encounter; how can we understand them anthropologically?
  • How does a focus on cultures of peace, utopian ‘creative’ ideals and inspiring individuals, practices and institutions shape or reshape peacemaking globally/locally?
  • In what way does an anthropological approach to peace change when incorporating visionary, creative and artistic means into our theory building and research methods?
  • In what ways does art reshape traditional structures of power and identity?
  • How can an anthropology of peace better engage with the realm of government and policy during peace building. Is there a role for the nexus space of creativity and an anthropology of peace to be policy engaged?
  • In spaces of ir/reconciliation what is the work that creativity can do?

At the end of the conference, we invite everyone to join us on a walking tour of Belfast. This is a particularly interesting site for such a conference to take place– as a post-conflict society that offers widespread visual commentary in the form of murals on the history and evolution of conflict in Northern Ireland.

The Anthropological Handbook on Peace and Conflict is another highlight worth mentioning. Together with the new convenors, the editors Andreas Hackl and Erella Grassiani will work on the handbook throughout 2019/2020. A special workshop session during the Belfast PACSA meeting will provide a space to shape the book and determine contributions and publishing opportunities.

We are looking forward to exciting panels, workshop, laboratories and other creative contributions such as photography, film, creative writing readings, drama, podcasts etc. by anthropologists as well as other peace and conflict scholars and creatives, as we strive to make this event an interdisciplinary, open space for discussion and exchange.

CALL for PAPERS is open until  June 6, 2019. Please email your submission to: 

Conference Organisers/PACSA Convenors:

Dr. Fiona Murphy (Queen’s University/Belfast)

Dr. Katja Seidel (University of Vienna/Austria)