Alternative Approaches in Reconciliation: The Arts


Responsible Persons

Conducted by: Isabel Meinhold
Supervisor: Annette Meuthrath


The Chance of Photography for Peacebuilding, Reconciliation and the creation of a dialogue in Georgia and Sri Lanka


The project is primarily concerned with the examination of reconciliation and the so-called soft approaches of the arts with regard to reconciliation research.
The aim of the work is to show whether and to what extent photography can make a constructive contribution to reconciliation, peacebuilding and, above all, dialogue. The focus is on different conflicted societies: Georgia, the secession area of Abkhazia as well as Sri Lanka. Participatory Photography has been chosen as a method.
By involving various individuals from different ethnicities/religions, the position of the hitherto strongly anchored mediator within peace research is to be weakened, and the extent to which the method can take over the role of the mediator in its entirety is to be examined. The participants own narratives will be surveyed and analysed, and ideally a safe space for dialogue will be created.
The concept of reconciliation, its origin and meaning in the respective cultural contexts will be worked out in detail. A closer look will be taken at the popular researchers Lederach and Galtung, asking whether approaches and definitions, such as those of positive and negative peace, but also of elicit conflict transformation in reconciliation research in symbiosis with photography, can be verified. This approach aims on finding an answer to the question whether the arts, i.e. photography, are applicable as peacemakers in a conflict scenario. The soft approach of art is to be critically examined and a theory of application within the reconciliation process is to be developed – for example at which phase of the conflict should photography be used.
Nevertheless, I will try to make a statement about whether a renewed escalation of conflict can be avoided by the soft approach of the arts. An equally important aspect is the long-term preservation of peace and the culture of Just Peace. One question that arises here is how art can change society on long term and on which levels the change is noticeable. Another important question is that of identity and identity transformation through sustainable reconciliation.
The project aims to strategically apply art-based approaches to reconciliation research, examining the potential of photography for forgiveness, healing and reconciliation.