2015 SUMMER SCHOOL IN COMPARATIVE CONFLICT STUDIES 

June 28 to July 5, 2015
Center for Comparative Conflict Studies at the Faculty of Media and Communications (FMK),

Singidunum University, Belgrade

The 2015 Summer School was successfully completed, with more than 60 participants from over 25 countries world wide.

The Summer School in Comparative Conflict Studies provides a learning opportunity for students interested in study and analysis of societies in and post-conflict. Interdisciplinary in its nature, drawing from the fields of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, History, Philosophy, Anthropology, Law and International Relations, the Summer School in Comparative Conflict Studies provides students with an interactive learning experience utilizing frontal lectures and class discussions focusing on comparative conflict analysis of different case studies. 

Students who complete the course requirements may transfer the course credit to their home institution (5 ECTS).

This year we offered 4 courses:

 

Orientalism, Balkanism, Occidentalism:
Thinking through discourses of "Othering" and Conflict

Dr. Jelena Tošić

Course description:

This course will explore different processes and patterns of imagining and constructing “the Other” with a special focus on the way these relate to (violent) conflict, discrimination and marginalisation. The discourses of Orientalism and Balkanism – originally strongly grounded in travelogues and art – figure as hegemonic cognitive patterns of constructing the “other” up to the present. Moreover, as explored in the seminal work of Edward Said (1995 [1978]) and Maria Todorova (2009), the very self-image of the “West”/the “Occident“ is crucially based on the construction of the „Orient“, respectively the „Balkans“. The analysis of occidental discourses (e.g. Carrier 2003) of imagining “the West” also reveals analogous and intertwined patterns of “othering”.

Apart from a thorough theoretical assessment, this course will pay special attention to relevant contemporary socio-political developments and conflicts from a comparative perspective. Namely, particularly after the break-out of violent conflicts in the Balkans, the attacks of 9/11, as well as in the course of EU-Enlargement (Turkey, Eastern Enlargement), the aggravation of the migration policies (xenophobia, debates of “honour killings”, Islamophobia etc.) and the most recent interface of the rise of militant groups in the Middle East and European security policies, the pronounced strength of orientalist, balkanist, and occidentalist patterns of thought and the necessity of their critical assessment by social sciences has become more than apparent.

Grounded on close readings of key and contemporary texts from a transdisciplinary perspective the course will offer the students the framework for comparatively exploring different forms of “Othering” in relation to cases of conflict, discrimination and marginalization. Furthermore this course will provide the setting for a systematic and interdisciplinary (re)assessment of crucial notions such as: the construction of the „other“, forms of identity grammars, boundary-making, “integration”, postcolonialism, essentialisation, exotisation, “fundamentalism”, terrorism etc.

 


 

From the Discourse of Brotherhood and Unity to the Discourses of EU Integration: The case of “transition” in Serbia

Dr. Jelisaveta Blagojević

Course Description:

Since the time when Serbia was one of the six republics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ), the country has been through very difficult cultural, political and ideological challenges and changes. While the dominant socialist ideology in former Yugoslavia, organized around Tito’s idea of “brotherhood and unity”, helped to pacify and diminish differences between various ethnic and religious groups, Serbian society during the period of the Milošević regime has deployed different ideological patterns characterized by national pride, territorial integrity, and the policy of “all Serbs in one country” politics. These ideas were brought together under the banner of securing national and cultural identity, as well as territorial integrity.

In dominant political and ideological discourses, contemporary Serbian society is most often characterized as a society “in transition”, colloquially referred to as “Serbia after democratic changes”. In such discourses, everything in Serbia in the past 15 years is “in transition”: the justice system, the economy and culture, but also our lives, our freedoms and our rights. Our recent historical trans experience generally refers to the path from communism and socialism to capitalism and liberal democracy, recognized as synonymous with European Union (EU) integration. At the same time, while “transiting” from one ideology to another, Serbian society is carrying the heavy burden of recent historical events: wars, ethnic cleansing, isolation and the collapse of all institutions, among others.

Course themes:

The course will be organized around four concepts:

a) community; b) friend/enemy; c) minorities and d) popular culture.

The aim of this course is to understand the transition from the dominant Yugoslav ideology to what came after in Serbia through the analysis of changes in the discourses that organize the four concepts above. Discussion will focus on Serbia as well as on comparisons with the other successor states of the former Yugoslavia.

Course Structure:

  • Background and introduction to the breakup of Yugoslavia
  • Post-Milosevic Serbia
  • Serbia in transition: community
  • Serbia in transition: concepts of friend/enemy
  • Serbia in transition: minorities
  • Serbia in transition: popular culture

 


 

The Challenge of International Intervention:
Balancing Justice and Order

Dr. Maxine David

Course Description:

The fundamental organising principle in the international system has long been one of state sovereignty. Thus, states are considered to have authority over a defined and internationally recognised territory, protected from external intervening forces. In 1991, George Bush Senior spoke of a ‘New World Order’, one in which the United Nations would now be free to fulfil its founders’ visions. Since then, the principle of non-intervention has been challenged by successive interventions into the sovereign affairs of states by international organisations, notably the United Nations and NATO, as well as some states. As if in acceptance of this new world order in which human rights protection could – would – be privileged over traditional understandings of sovereignty, in 2005 the international “community” adopted the principle of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). R2P has since been widely debated by reason of the emphasis it places on achieving justice for people, placing obligations on states to protect the wellbeing of their citizens and to face the possibility of an outside intervention when they fail to do so. However, events since 2005, not least the conflict in Syria, are suggestive of a limited commitment to the principle of rights protection and therefore to the vision of a New World Order.

In this course, students will be introduced to the underpinning concepts and competing understandings of intervention in situations of conflict, state collapse, humanitarian and human rights emergencies. Students will learn to identify and deliver a critical analysis of those factors that shape international intervention. Emphasis is then placed on the application of concepts and theories to real-life scenarios, examining a few of the case studies that have been particularly significant in respect of developing international-level responses to crises. Ultimately, students will be required to deliver well-evidenced verdicts on whether the founding visions of the United Nations have been fulfilled and whether order must always come at the expense of justice.

Course themes:

Throughout the course, students will be asked to consider when and how real moments of change occur and to evaluate the extent to which we see more continuity than change in the international system. Four core themes in the study of Intervention will sit at the heart of our studies: Sovereignty, Legitimacy, Legality, Human Rights. The course aims to help students understand the arguments for and against intervention: what motivates actors to intervene, what constrains them, the inherent costs and dangers of their choices. Through study of a number of interventions, students will debate the choices available to actors in order to achieve an understanding of the context in which difficult decisions are made and the consequences of those decisions.

 


 

Mnemonic Battles and Memory Activism in and after Conflict

Dr. Orli Fridman

Course Description:

This course invites students to approach the study of conflict analysis and conflict transformation through a journey in the field of social memory studies. The course will focus on the role of social memory studies for peace and conflict studies scholars and allow students to delve into the analysis of internal dynamics of societies in or after conflict and the way they negotiate their pasts, presents and futures in the aftermath of war, conflict, repression, genocide and mass atrocities.

The course will explore dynamics and frameworks allowing the social organization of memory, and modes in which entire communities (and not only individuals) preserve and remember the past, commemorate it, deny or obliterate it. Finally the course will highlight practices related to memory work and memory activism in spaces of conflicts over the narratives and representations of the past (Jelin, 2003).

In order to do so, students will be introduced to some underpinning concepts in social memory studies and in conflict studies. Students will then apply this knowledge to a number of case studies, allowing them to further investigate the role of memory and memory activism in conflict analysis, and think comparatively about processes in conflict and post-conflict transformation.

The Kosovo Case Study will be taught by Dr. Nita Luci from the University of Prishtina, who will join the course as a guest lecturer.

Course Structure:

  • Theoretical introduction to social memory studies, conflict analysis and Conflict Transformation;
  • Collective Memory and National Calendars: collective memory, community memory, social organization of national memory, commemorative events
  • Memory Work and Memory Activism in and after conflict.

Case studies may include:

  • The memory of 1948 in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict;
  • Memory Silence and Denial: the memories of the wars of the 1990s in Serbia;
  • The Politics of Memory and Statebuilding in Kosovo: Commemorative Aesthetics and Activism
    (This case study will be taught by Dr. Nita Luci)

 

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