Overview

The research cluster advances a framework that investigates the ways in which "peace" and "conflict", including contentious politics and other forms of political expression, are able to co-exist.

The research theoretically and empirically:

  • Explores the relationship between (violent) conflict, political institutions, economic development, social and legal justice and forms of cultural expression
  • Problematises concepts and the varied interpretations of "conflict", "violence", "war" "justice" and "development" as they are understood in multiple geographical, historical, and temporal contexts. These concepts and understandings may shift, evolve or intersect according to: actor experiences of physical violence or structural injustice; varied state/non-state actor approaches to sovereignty, rights, power, authority, accountability, and territoriality; ethnoreligious, indigenous, cultural, gender, legal and intergenerational identities and frames; or according to lived experiences of violence, trauma, contestation and inclusion/exclusion
  • Explores what shapes the subjectivities, multiple narratives, imaginings of violence, conflict, peace and justice, and how varied understandings and uses of these concepts can co-exist

This cluster comprises of an inter-disciplinary team that investigates the complexities of ‘governing and living with conflict’ across wide-ranging political, social and cultural systems perceived to be at various stages economic development, each with varied state and non-state institutional contexts in multiple country settings. The cluster takes as its methodological and epistemological starting point that conflict is an enduring and inevitable social and political dynamic that may never be entirely eliminated: conflict is the foundation of political life.

Conflict may emerge in various forms of non-violent contestation within or external to social and political institutions and as a ‘productive’ means of canvassing different views and interests which stimulate critical debate and innovation in societies. Equally, power differentials between social and cultural groups that result in political, social, cultural and economic exclusion can give rise to structural violence and inequalities which generate or deepen social divides, and can cause significant harm.

Periodic ruptures in these dynamics may generate physical violence, restricted movement or the migration of individuals or groups, producing intense and enduring conflicts. The tenets of such ruptures then frame and constrain future political and social relationships, economic and institutional development, the power and influence of different sets of actors, and perceptions and practices of justice and accountability. These dynamics have particular force in countries emerging from periods of large-scale violence and civil war, or that experience other deep cleavages resulting from historical violence or oppression, as has been the case in many countries with a history of colonialism, settler-colonialism and authoritarianism.

Even in supposedly post-war and post-conflict societies, where social and political dynamics may have evolved through conflict interventions and resolution efforts, in many cases residual dynamics of conflict remain entrenched in social and cultural practices. Frequently to there is a continuity between past and present and the political institutions that have developed. As such the divides along which well-entrenched fault lines concerning territory, resources, identity and culture have evolved retain the potential for violence in contemporary society and politics.

It theoretically explores the relationship between (violent) conflict, political institutions, economic development, social justice and forms of cultural expression. It also problematises concepts, it explores what shapes the subjectivities, multiple narratives, imaginings of violence, conflict, peace and justice, and how varied understandings and uses of these concepts can co-exist.

Summary of areas covered in our research

The research areas covered within the Conflict, Development and Justice theme include:

  • Afghanistan
  • Australia
  • Bougainville
  • Cambodia
  • Canada
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Ecuador
  • Indonesia
  • Nepal
  • Nigeria
  • Northern Ireland
  • Rwanda
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Timor Leste
  • United Kingdom
  • USA
  • And cities such as Tokyo, Berlin, New York, and London