Objectives

1. Understanding how social imaginaries shape internal conflicts and transitions to peace. The overarching research question driving this project is how social imaginaries shape civil conflicts and, in so doing, how and to what extent they influence the possibilities for reconciliation and the transition to peace. Our aim is to foster a better understanding of how each of these communities imagines conflict and reconciliation, beyond the universalising rhetoric which often characterises approaches to peace building.

2. Comparative analysis of the local imaginaries of conflict and transition to peace at a transnational level (5 sites across the globe). Examined in isolation, it would be difficult to put a case forward as to the importance of local specificities in the imaginaries of conflict and transition to peace. We aim to carry out 5 case studies comparatively, placing specific conflicts
in dialogue by means of an audience reception study of films representing conflict from the other regions in this study. We suggest that the commonalities and differences between conflicts will emerge more clearly through comparison of these local imaginaries than by comparing conflicts by reference to a set of standard metrics. The participatory spirit of co- produced knowledge through focus groups will enable us to elucidate the commonalities, differences, tropes and myths that are used to imagine and represent conflict across a variety of sites.

3. Provide assistance to all participants involved in the study, articulation, implementation and experience of processes of transition to peace. This proposal is motivated by a perceived limitation in existing approaches to the study and implementation of post-conflict transition. We aim to provide a set of qualitative indices that will be available and useful to community groups, victim associations, NGOs, policymakers and researchers alike, opening up the possibility of perceiving the multiple nature of civil conflict by exploring local conflicts in their own terms.

4. Produce audiovisual materials that will encourage continued reflection on the imaginaries of post-conflict beyond the scope and duration of this project. The audio-visual outputs will be vital in understanding concepts of the imaginary through the act of creation. Along with providing documentation of the research activities, they will be creative practice-as-research outputs that critically engage with the project and illustrate approaches to the imaginary. This combination of theory and practice will provide opportunities for students at the collaborating institutions to gain experience in documenting events and apprenticing professional practitioners. Screenings of the completed outputs will make our findings accessible to the public and create further spaces in which dialogue may open up and continue.


5. Underline the importance of the imaginary and affect in understanding contemporary political processes. Given the pressing need to understand local contexts of violence and transition, we argue that the imaginary is the key to navigating the ways communities produce and reproduce conflict and reconciliation. In broader terms, we aim to underline the importance of the imaginary and affect across academic disciplines to better understand contemporary social and political processes.


6. Make important contributions and innovations in the area of reception studies. Film reception theory understands spectatorship as a situated response. As a method of research, it provides a space for participatory and co-produced knowledge. It also enables both researchers and participants to explore and better understand the role that film plays in the representation and reproduction of different conflicts. We aim to innovate in the methods applied to reception studies, taking into account the new media landscape available as a platform for recording audience reaction. This will, in turn, enable contributions to reception theory.