Conflict and International Development: New Research Perspectives from the Humanities (Academic Panel)

The EADI-NORDIC 2017 conference aims to draw attention to those “left behind” in the globalization race; areas and regions of the world that have not benefited from rising incomes, increased access to technology and peace and security. It therefore identifies an urgent need to re-visit the social compact in both low and high-income countries, to make citizenship work for people in the former and prevent the latter from being “politically torn apart” with deep ideological and economic divisions. Now more than ever new perspectives and innovative research is critical in the face of such global challenges.

This year the UK government too has set up a Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) to fund interdisciplinary and ambitious research seeking to address these challenges and drive policy change. This panel brings together some of the new and cutting edge research on conflict and international development. It draws on arts and humanities approaches and includes local partnersin the countries where the projects were being undertaken.

Successful projects are doing pioneering work in conflict studies and redefining the boundaries of international development as a discipline. A diverse array of projects include using digital stories, literary comics poetry and participatory photography created by research participants as sources of data, organising ‘peace festivals’ with local communities in conflict affected societies, as well as understanding the impact of sound and music in post war transition. These research initiatives are breaking new ground, in devising new methodologies and producing policy relevant, easily accessible and genuinely inclusive outputs for development policy and intervention. These methodologies transform the ‘left behind’ subjects into active agents in the narratives being told about their lives; making the research process transformative and its outputs more authentic and powerful. This research work is also representative of a diverse geography with projects from South America, Africa, South and East Asia.

Four papers will be presented from investigators working on this new and emerging area of research within conflict and international development. The authors of these papers will share with the panel the initial findings of (i) their research (ii) the success and challenges of using unconventional research methods and (iii) how this work may be taken forward by the panelists themselves or other interested scholars.

Dr Ayesha Siddiqi, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway University of London