This seminar begins from the working assumption that conflict is always about people. Whatever its contextual causes or consequences, any conflict is driven, shaped and directed by psycho-social dimensions that risk escalating a dispute into a zone in which destructivity and inhumane behaviour run unchecked. Understanding these dimensions – recognising them and analysing their various workings in particular settings – constitutes the first step to working with conflict transformatively, enabling a shift from wielding weapons to using words and to validating the cultural resources and the needs, interests and values of people in the conflict setting.
Any such transformation necessarily requires thoroughgoing prior analysis of the social conditions precipitating the conflict – the role of structural violence, for example, of grievance, of disparities and relative deprivation, of interests, needs and values – to cite a few of the approaches to be explored. This seminar provides tools to analyse conflict and become alert to pitfalls as well as to realistic openings for intervention and transformation.