Depictions of war and conflict
The four year ‘Screening Violence’ project will explore how conflict and reconciliation are experienced by communities on the ground. Screening films that deal with war and conflict and recording viewers’ reactions will allow the research team to gauge the experiences of people living in communities affected by warfare.
It will look specifically at five countries - Algeria, Argentina, Colombia, Indonesia, and Northern Ireland. Each of these countries have had very different experiences of conflict in recent decades, including guerrilla warfare, sectarian violence, state-sponsored persecution of particular groups and genocide.
Professor Guy Austin from Newcastle University’s School of Modern Languages said: “There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to making the transition from war to peace – violence affects different communities in different ways, and they will each have specific ways of representing the stories and events that have taken place in their country.
“In many cases, long-held and deeply entrenched attitudes and behaviour have meant that these countries have been, and are still, deeply divided by the violence they’ve experienced. This project aims to investigate citizens’ perceptions of conflict and related issues, giving a detailed insight into these communities, and providing in-depth data with potential to inform post-conflict reconciliation.”
The project, which has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, will bring experts from Newcastle University together with academics from St Andrews and Ulster universities, along with academic and filmmaking partners in each of the five countries.
The research team plan to show films about conflicts in the other countries to focus groups in each of the five study sites. Participants will be filmed as they reflect on similarities and differences between the conflict they’re watching and the violence that affected their own community.
The discussions will then be used to create a series of documentaries which researchers hope can be used by NGOs, policymakers, communities and victim support groups to provide better post-conflict assistance.
Professor Austin added: “War and violence have a profound and lasting impact on a country, with different groups struggling to acknowledge the past, contested accounts of guilt, and conflicting feelings of responsibility and victimhood.
“Having a better understanding of how conflict affects different groups will enable targeted and more relevant support to be delivered on the ground in specific communities. We hope it will also foster a greater appreciation of all sides affected and bring about a sustainable transition to peace.”
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