Updates from Our Fellows
Sangeeta writes us about the special need for ‘Art for Peace’ in the work of the ICfC and LAIM (the Indonesian host organization) in this “Spice Island” paradise of beauty, isolation and violence:
“Our program called ‘Art for Peace’ uses the power of different forms of art to bridge communities in conflict. Our work reflects local tensions and seeks to create opportunities for different communities to work together and learn about and from each other. The process will explore the spaces between the lines of mass movement — what happens when you don’t align yourself with the community around you, when you fall between the cracks of society, when you don’t conform. During the creative process we wish to develop techniques that enable participants to reflect on the essential disjointedness of a multi-cultural society where widely differing communities share common physical space but exist in a completely different mental space. How do people live with difference? We want to acknowledge the things that both define us (a positive) and separate us (a negative). Through the artistic work we aim to find what it is that we can share and that can enable us to create a shared mental space.
Immigration and emigration, globalization and xenophobia, polarization and amalgamation, conflict and paralysis – these factors work, not only in Maluku but all over the world today, leading to fractured, increasingly segregated and fearful societies. The Art for Peace, as a method, strives to combat these destructive influences and create meeting grounds for people who are historically and/or acutely in conflict. We do this by discovering the silent voice within, by raising awareness on issues that are taboo. By creating personal involvement and responsibility within and across communities, by changing personal and community landscapes and perspectives and the stories we tell one another and ourselves.”
Oded Leshem Adomi
Oded writes us:
“As I write these lines Fajr Missiles are falling a mile from my home in Tel-Aviv and Israeli F16s are destructing Gaza. At the same time, a battle is blazing on the internet where texts and images full of hostility are fanatically distributed by both Israelis and Palestinians all in the purpose of humiliating the other and building national morale.
I live in a region of conflict, a region of a protracted and an intractable violent dispute that is devastating the lives of both Arabs and Jews in the Holy Land.
Most of the people on both sides are frustrated and hopeless, but there are exceptions. There are people who believe that a just and comprehensive solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is achievable. These Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers, together with partners from all over the world, are doing their best to open the minds and hearts of the citizens of the region to the Other’s pains and fears, their hopes and needs, in the long way to mutual recognition and conciliation.
I had the privilege to meet these brave people when I was chosen to be the coordinator for ICfC’s “Historical Conciliation” workshops lead by ICfC and the Israeli based NGO “Ossim Shalom”. In the year-and-half-long project I have worked with outstanding Arab and Jewish facilitators from “Ossim Shalom” and with the highly committed and professional staff of ICfC that were my colleagues as well as my mentors in the exiting field of peacemaking that was new for me.
Working as a project coordinator in the field of Conflict Resolution enabled me to learn a lot about the historical, cultural and political complexities of the conflict and about the depth of mutual suspicion and hostility that needs to be resolved. My successful experience with ICfC led me to continue to work in other partnership and peace projects in the region.
In these important attempts to break prejudiced attitudes and create a platform of mutual recognition, there were many moments when I thought to myself – what I see and hear now is worth researching. This is when my intellectual interests in conflicts emerged and asserted themselves as my main goals: To be a scholar-practitioner in the field of Conflict Resolution and Peacemaking.”
I am now in my second and last year of the graduate program in Conflict Resolution and Mediation in the Tel Aviv University and am seeking a PhD in the field of Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies.
No doubt, my first encounter with ICfC and its “Historical Conciliation” project was one of the main contributors to my decision to devote my attention and energy to peacemaking in my region.”
Dr. Nir Eisikovitz teaches legal and political philosophy at Suffolk University, where he directs the Graduate Program in Ethics and Public Policy. His research focuses on the moral and political dilemmas arising in post-conflict settings. His recent book is titled Sympathizing with the Enemy: Reconciliation, Transitional Justice, Negotiation (Martinus Nijhoff and RoL) and was the subject of a special symposium in the Review of International Affairs (http://www.suffolk.edu/files/College_Communications/RIA_No._1138-1139.pdf). Nir is currently working on a new book on truces tentatively titled: Kill Me Tomorrow but Let Me Live Today: Truces, Ceasefires and the Decline of Peace. He has also written numerous op-ed pieces on the Middle East conflict for the print media, such as, The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, The Miami Herald, The Providence Journal, The Boston Herald, The Forward and In These Times.
Dr. Dagmar (Dasha) Kusa currently teaches at the Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts in Bratislava, Slovakia. This semester, Dasha teaches Human Rights and Globalization and Conflict of Identities. She has started research for a book on the narratives of historical trauma in Central Europe, which will study the topic of trauma narratives in political use (and misuse) comparatively. Dasha is also engaged in organization of the second Muslim Jewish Conference, which will take place in Geneva from July 3rd through 9th, where she will lead a committee on sustained community dialogue.
Jina Moore works as a freelance journalist and is currently finishing a year-long Fulbright Fellowship in Rwanda. As part of the fellowship, Jina is visiting Rwandan genocide memorial sites, documenting in sound how the landscapes, and the people in them, are changing as the sites become professionalized and official. Recently, she published an essay in the Columbia Journalism Review, the profession’s top publication, on the ethics of trauma reporting, arguing that journalists covering tragedies and traumas need to rethink the relationship they build, through writing, with their readers. (http://www.jinamoore.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/moore.pdf)
In addition to the private practice of law, David Ramsey actively volunteers as a community mediator in New York City. He mediates cases referred by state courts and government agencies to a local community dispute resolution center. In addition to dealing with the legal and business issues of people in conflict, David builds understanding and acknowledgment about the shared realities that they face. He has mediated over 200 business, legal, and interpersonal disputes in this way, and recently served on an anti-hate crimes task force. David’s engagement with conflict resolution in New York — in some ways a microcosm of the world’s conflicts more broadly – has been providing him ongoing feedback and ideas for ICfC’s global work.
Adam Saltsman is currently living in Mae Sot, Thailand, on the border with Burma where he is conducting fieldwork for his PhD in Sociology at Boston College. His work focuses on participatory approaches to migrant advocacy for labor rights and refugee rights. As a baseline for his dissertation research, Adam is coordinating a mixed methods study for the Feinstein International Center and the International Rescue Committee on livelihoods, vulnerability, and access to justice for Burmese asylum seekers and Thai residents of this city. In recent years, Adam has also done work in the Middle East on the issue of Iraqi displacement, publishing an article in the Forced Migration Review on Iraqi refugees’ right to information.
Shanti Sattler is currently pursing her M.A. in international studies and diplomacy at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Inspired by her time working for ICfC in Cambodia, she is focusing her dissertation on the role of victims in international war crimes tribunals. Shanti continues to actively assist ICfC’s office in Phnom Penh as well as efforts to promote the “We Want (u) to Know” film (www.we-want-u-to-know.com) that was made in one of the villages ICfC works with in Cambodia’s Takeo province. She is also engaged with other organizations doing post-conflict reconciliation work in several African countries.
This past year, Dr. David Steele has been serving as adjunct faculty in the Masters Program in Coexistence at Brandeis University. In addition, he developed a manual for use in discussion of Muslim/Christian reconciliation in Nigeria and inter-ethnic conflict in Kenya, sponsored by the United States Institute of Peace. He also recently helped facilitate a workshop on sensitivity to the religious context for USAID personnel. David was a keynote speaker for the start of a peace studies minor at Gordon College and he recently made a presentation on conflict transformation and peace-building in Kenya at the UN Interagency Framework Team for Preventive Action.