Art & Reconciliation: Conflict, Culture and Community
Since the early 1990s, billions of dollars have been poured into post-conflict settings to try to help war-torn and divided societies overcome the legacies of violence and authoritarian rule. Particular attention has been directed at projects that facilitate ‘reconciliation’ however there remains little understanding of what reconciliation is or how it can be achieved. If anything, what has been learnt from experiments in post-conflict peacebuilding is that attempts to ‘reconcile’ or ‘draw a line’ under the past have as much chance of solidifying and antagonising a sense of difference than in producing the conditions for enduring peace. What, then, is reconciliation? How can it be achieved? And how might we know when a reconciliation process has been successful? Is it even something that can or should be pursued?
Art&Reconciliation is an innovative and interdisciplinary research initiative, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, and led by King’s College London and partners at the University of the Arts London and London School of Economics and Political Science, that seeks to find answers to these critical questions.
We are particularly interested in exploring the relationship between art and reconciliation. This is, in part, because art is increasingly seen as a ‘go to’ peacebuilding tool, which has the potential to overcome many of the problems that more ‘traditional’ responses to violence face. This, however, also remains an idea rooted in faith, which lacks sufficient evidence. This project will explore the relationship between the arts and reconciliation, exploring how the arts may (or may not) contribute to facilitating reconciliation through commissions and research with artists working in post conflict settings.
We also want to ask how might the arts challenge what it is that is imagined as ‘reconciliation’. As a research initiative, Art & Reconciliation, does not assume there is a definitive position on what reconciliation is or means. Neither do we assume that reconciliation is either desirable or achievable. Rather we seek to explore how reconciliation is conceptualised and practiced by different communities, practitioners and academics and to question and explore the dissonance that emerges between perspectives. The insights, voices and findings we discover along the way will be presented on this website.