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Image by Peter Conlan

Building Peace After Conflict-Identity & Reconciliation

Serious and violent conflicts are not just marked by differing interests. In fact, most often these conflicts are intimately connected to our sense of self and our connection to our in-group. The conflict forces us to either confront our identities and change them for the better or to harden them forcing the other to remain other. Working through conflict is a difficult process in part because it requires the transformation of one's identity and understanding of the world, yet it also requires reassurance of that very identity. Without this reassurance, the anxieties of change can disrupt the peace process. 

During this summer school, students from Germany, the Netherlands, and South Africa reflected on their own differing identities and worked together towards models of conflict transformation and management in interactive ways. 

These questions were addressed during this summer school under the guidance of two internationally experienced peacebuilders:

Prof. Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela

Clinical Psychologist and Senior Research Professor at the University of the Free State, Cape Town South Africa, served on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as coordinator of victims’ public hearings. In that role, she participated in, and facilitated encounters between family members of victims of gross human rights violations and perpetrators responsible for these human rights abuses. Her current research – on the development of empathy in victim-perpetrator dialogue – applies the insights emerging from her work on forgiveness, to conceptualise the components of the TRC process that led to expressions of remorse by perpetrators and forgiveness by victims/survivors and/or their family members.


Prof. John Paul Lederach

Professor for International Peacebuilding at Krok Institute of Notre Dame University, Indiana, U.S.A., is recognized for his pioneering work on conflict transformation, has traveled to areas of the world where conflict is a way of life to provide conciliation training and direct mediation, in Colombia, the Philippines, Nepal and Tajikistan, as well as countries in East and West Africa and has helped design and conduct training programs in 25 countries across five continents.

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