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Durham University

Durham Global Security Institute

Research Projects

IDP Camp in Bosasso (Foto: Botan)

Security On The Move

Principal Investigator: Dr Jutta Bakonyi (DGSi)

Co-Investigators: Dr Kirsti Stuvøy (Noragric, Norwegian University of Life Sciences), Mr Abdirahman Edle (South West Livestock Professional Association), Dr Peter Chonka (Durham University and King's College London).

Funding Body: UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Department for International Development (DFID) (£265,204; Grant Ref.: ES/R002355/1)

Duration: September 2017 to March 2019

The interplay between violent conflict and droughts is described as one of the main drivers of internal displacement in Somalia, but rapid in-migration to cities further increases pressures on the urban and rural environment. This research project focuses on the capacities of IDPs to cope with the effects of violence and displacement and to mitigate vulnerability.

The study is conducted in four cities in Southern Somalia (Mogadishu, Baidoa), Puntland (Bosasso) and Somaliland (Hargeisa), which have quite different histories pertaining to in-migration and violence. While IDPs in Hargeysa and Mogadishu have started to gain attention from international organisations, very little is known about IDPs living in secondary or smaller cities such as Bosasso or Baidoa.

This project conducts interviews and compares IDPs perceptions and practices of security on the move and when settling into the city. The concern with IDPs and cities links the project to the emerging global urban agenda and the need to develop new approaches to urban sustainability, democratic governance and livelihood in cities. With the choice to study this from the viewpoints and experiences of IDPs, people who are most vulnerable are placed at the core of the knowledge production. This informs the choice of research methods, which, in addition to narrative interviews, also includes a photo-voice methodology.

The Cultural Heritage of Conflict

Principal Investigators: Prof Annika Björkdahl (Lund University), Dr Stefanie Kappler (DGSi) and Dr Johanna Mannergren Selimovic (Swedish Institute of International Affairs)

Funding Body: The Swedish Research Council (4,8 Mkr)

Duration: January 2017 to December 2019

Violence leaves a tangible and intangible legacy and societies emerging from war and conflict have to deal with a difficult heritage. The sites of conflict are tangibly present in the post-conflict realm: scars on buildings from grenades and bullets, remnants of dividing walls and crossings. Things such as guns and bones from killing fields or everyday objects of living through war are often displayed in museums. The materiality of memory is also present through photographs, films and websites. In addition, meaningful cultural heritage sites after conflict also include what is not in-the-place, e.g. atrocity sites such as unmarked massgraves former rape camps that do not display any acknowledgement of the past crimes. These voids may serve as counter-narrative heritage sites that disrupt hegemonic remembering (and forgetting).

The project investigates what role such difficult cultural heritage of conflict plays in transitions to peace. It explores and theorizes the links between tangible cultural heritage of material sites and things and intangible cultural heritage. The project does so by employing a conceptual framework that takes into consideration how sites and things that constitute the legacy of the conflict produce ‘social ensembles’ of agents, narratives and events.

While plenty of studies are concerned with historical heritage that is targeted for destruction in conflicts, our focus is on the actual sites and artefacts that conflict in itself has produced, which we read in conjunction with the wider issues of how these sites are used and interpreted in the domains of intangible heritage. The project contributes to the literature on cultural heritage by closing the gap between tangible and intangible, historical and contemporary cultural heritage that prevails in conceptual and empirical analyses. Further, these insights, coupled with an engagement with theories of spatiality and new materialism, build a bridge between cultural studies and peace & conflict research.

The complex and shifting dynamics of tangible and intangible cultural heritage of conflict is explored in a variety of contexts. Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cyprus, Rwanda, and South Africa are our core cases but we also engage with Northern Ireland, Cambodia and other societies that grapple with a difficult heritage of violent conflict. It means that we can let the cases ‘speak to each other’ and allow for comparison that can generate theoretical insights into the role of cultural heritage of conflict in societies transitioning to peace.

The project is informed by collaborations with the arts and civil society. We cooperate with the international platform (under development) concerned with exhibiting visual art in post-conflict communities. Partners in dissemination are Färgfabriken, Stockholm (a platform for contemporary cultural expressions, and the foundation Cultural Heritage without Borders, Sarajevo (

Peace and the Politics of Memory

Principal Investigators: Dr Stefanie Kappler (DGSi), Dr Johanna Mannergren Selimovic (Swedish Institute of International Affairs)

Funding Body: The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (5,5 Million SEK)

Duration: January 2017 to December 2019

In societies emerging from violent conflict, victims, perpetrators and bystanders often live side by side, harbouring conflicting memories and experiences of violence. One of the most pressing questions concerns how the difficult past can be remembered without threatening the fragile peace of the present and future. This project investigates if and how commemoration impacts on the quality of peace, and aims to explain why commemoration may contribute to the making of a durable peace or the perpetuation of conflict.

In-depth and comparative studies are conducted of memory politics in four cases: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cyprus, Rwanda and South Africa. In order to capture the shifting and conflictual politics of memory we develop an analytical framework around four conceptual entry points: narratives, agents, sites and events, that together constitute ‘mnemonic formations’. In each of the four selected case studies key topics of memory politics are identified and their associated mnemonic formations are analysed.

Examples of such key contentious topics of memory politics are political imprisonment in the era of apartheid in South Africa, the war crime of rape in Rwanda and the Srebrenica genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The comparative element of the study enables us to develop a typology of mnemonic formations. We anticipate that comparisons will also generate observations at country level due to the diagnostic function of the selected mnemonic formations.

Our conceptualization of durable peace zooms in on some key characteristics that we posit are of particular importance in relation to memory politics: Durable peace is inclusive in terms of ethnicity, religion, age and gender, it is pluralist in terms of diverse societal discourses, and it embraces human dignity in terms of human rights. We will use this definition of durable peace in order to assess whether, how and why commemoration impacts on the quality of peace.

The project addresses the lack of detailed investigations into the fluid and frictional construction of commemoration in societies transitioning from war to peace, and thus makes an original contribution to the literatures of transitional justice and peacebuilding. Further, the project provides policy-relevant insights into how commemoration can function in support of peacebuilding.

Violence and the City

Jutta Bakonyi (Durham Global Security Institute, United Kingdom)

Kirsti Stuvøy (Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway)