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4 June - Communicating Contested Political Histories: Memory, Truth and Denial in the Srebrenica Genocide

The Srebrenica massacre in July 1995 was the single greatest atrocity on European soil since the Second World War, during which Bosnian Serb forces systematically massacred more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in a crime judged by the International Court of Justice at The Hague to be an act of genocide. As we approach the 20th anniversary of Srebrenica, the terrible events of the past continue to haunt us – not just through the ongoing discovery of mass grave sites in Tomasica and elsewhere, but also through the pernicious denials of ethnic cleansing and genocide, and the rise of revisionist history that has taken hold in parts of the Balkans. 

​How do we communicate and remember contested political histories, particularly those involving extreme  violence? How do we commemorate these tragic events without first achieving agreement on the narratives of what took place? How do we arrive at 'reconciliation' when the 'truth' itself is so polarising?

This event seeks to address these issues surrounding remembrance of Srebrenica, by discussing survivor testimonies, the painstaking process of establishing facts and truth, and the contesting of genocide denial and revisionist history.

PANEL

  • ​Dr Akil N Awan, Lecturer in Political Violence and Terrorism, Department of History, Royal Holloway, University of London.
  • Adam Boys, Director of International Programs, International Committee for Missing Persons (ICMP).
  • Muhamed Durakovic, Srebrenica survivor, and Head of Libya programme at the ICMP.
  • Dr. Eric Gordy, Senior Lecturer in Politics of Southeast Europe at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) of University College London.

Date/Time: 4 June 2014 6:30pm

Location: Room 261, Senate House, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU

Map/Directions: http://senatehouselibrary.ac.uk/visiting-the-library/how-to-find-us/

Generously supported by the Humanities & Arts Research Centre (HARC) at Royal Holloway, University of London, and Remembering Srebrenica.

Posted on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 10:43AM by Registered CommenterAdministrator | Comments Off | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Narratives of transition in Syria

The NPCU's Ben O'Loughlin has published a new column for the journal Global Policy, 'Narratives of Transition in Syria'. This emerges from recent discussions at the Carter Center in the US addressing the prospects for reconciliation and the role media might play in the process. He argues that any new national narrative or story that incorporates the identities and aspirations of different sections of Syrian society must also mesh with narratives the major international powers have about sovereignty, human rights, and how such conflicts should be settled. Without that international buy-in, those external actors will continue to support differing factions and conflict will continue.

Posted on Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 04:31PM by Registered CommenterAdministrator | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

After the party - what can political parties learn from 38 Degrees

NPCU PhD researcher James Dennis has published a new article in openDemocracy , 'After the party - what can political parties learn from 38 Degrees'. His analysis comes from recent research he has carried out of the organisation across different locations and campaigns. He argues that if parties are to avoid terminal decline they must heed the lessons 38 Degrees offers - people want influence and tangible efficacy from their politics rather than being offered rigid ideological platforms and unresponsive hierarchies.

Posted on Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 04:27PM by Registered CommenterAdministrator | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Religion, Conflict Resolution, and Media in the Syrian Crisis - Carter Center, Atlanta this week

"Women refugees from Syria queue to register on arrival at the Za'atari camp in Jordan. 26 Jan 2013." Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license (CC BY-SA 2.0), courtesy of the UK Department for International Development and Georgia State University.The second leg of the NPCU-Georgia State University programme on Religion, Media and Conflict takes place in Atlanta, Georgia on 7-9 May. This workshop focuses on Syria, and takes place at the Carter Center. It will provide a closed-door forum for a small group of policy makers, experts, and religious actors to think critically about the challenges posed to the international community by the Syrian civil war and ensuing humanitarian crisis. While a number of immediate operational and tactical issues deserve attention, the workshop aims to anticipate and envision solutions to medium and long- term problems such as sectarian conflict, political reconciliation, and nation- (re)building. The project is supported by grants from the British Council and the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Our colleagues at GSU, Shawn Powers and Abbas Barzegar, have put together a stellar agenda. The NPCU's Akil Awan and Ben O'Loughlin will participate in the workshop.

For those in town, below are details of a free and public event that is part of the workshop. Kindly RSVP to jphil22@emory.edu or 404.727.1438.

Syria, The Human Toll: Prospects for Reconciliation and Redevelopment

Thursday, May 8 7pm Jimmy Carter Library and Museum

Not since the Rwandan genocide has the world seen a humanitarian crisis like the one caused by Syria’s civil war. As the conflict enters its fourth year nine million people have been displaced, the education system is in ruin and the country’s medical system is near total collapse. With religious extremism on the rise and opposition groups divided, the prospects for peace remain elusive for the near future. While much international attention is focused on political processes that will lead to a cessation of conflict and a peace settlement, Syria’s humanitarian crisis continues to deepen. Governments and private donors are focused on the challenges of meeting immediate needs for food, shelter and medical care. But, what are the prospects for the future? This public discussion with policy, NGO and academic experts provides an opportunity for stakeholders to share their perspectives on the challenges of post conflict reconciliation and redevelopment in Syria.

Panelists

Basma Atassi, Journalist, Aljazeera

Hrair Balian, Director, Conflict Resolution Program, The Carter Center

Karen Betts, Foreign Policy Counsellor, UK Embassy, Washington DC

Juan Cole, Professor of History, University of Michigan

John Blevins,  Associate Professor, Hubert Dept. of Global Health, Emory University

Thanks as ever to Tim Rivera from British Council USA for assistance with the Bridging Voices program, as well as to The Carter Center, GSU, and Emory University. 

Posted on Monday, May 5, 2014 at 09:08PM by Registered CommenterAdministrator | Comments Off | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Remembering Srebrenica: Akil Awan takes part in international delegation

With Srebrenica survivor Hasan Hasanovic (right) at the Srebrenica-Potocari Genocide memorialThe NPCU's Dr Akil Awan has just returned from Srebrenica as an academic expert on Political Violence & Conflict accompanying the House of Lords UK delegation organised by Remembering Srebrenica, tasked with documenting and commemorating the genocide of 1995 that took place there, during the Bosnian war, following the break up of the former Yugoslavia.

In 1993, with Bosnian Serb forces poised to over-run the enclave of 60,000 Bosnian Muslims, the United Nations Security Council had declared Srebrenica to be an internationally protected “safe area”, and deployed UN peacekeepers to protect its inhabitants. The town was quickly demilitarised and residents were compelled to give up all of their arms, under the guarantee that they would be protected by the UN. In July 1995, however, the remaining 400 poorly-equipped Dutch UN peacekeepers effectively abandoned the unarmed inhabitants, and the enclave fell to Serb forces on the afternoon of 11th July. Over 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were executed in the ensuing slaughter, before being buried in mass graves to hide the crimes. As international scrutiny fell on these locations, Serb forces often exhumed the mass graves and reburied the corpses in secondary and tertiary mass graves. In some cases, body parts from a single victims were later discovered from 15 different mass grave locations.

The delegation, consisting of five peers, including Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Baroness Susan Williams, and Baroness Hussein-Ece, met with survivors of the Srebrenica massacre, as well as the Mothers of Srebrenica, who all recounted harrowing stories of rape camps, mass killings and unspeakable acts of horror. The delegation also visited the International Committee for Missing Persons, which carries out the crucial and painstaking forensic identification efforts on victims of the massacre, witnessing first-hand the mortuary that houses rows upon rows of yet unidentified body parts of victims. 

​The delegation also met the Grand Mufti of Bosnia, and President Izetbegović of Bosnia, and discussed remembrance and reconciliation efforts, and how to communicate the genocide to future generations, which is particularly important in the run up to next year's 20th anniversary commemorations of the massacre. The UK delegation ended their trip by visiting the site of the massacres, and the Potočari-Srebrenica memorial to the genocide opened by former US President Bill Clinton in 2003.

Posted on Monday, April 28, 2014 at 11:16AM by Registered CommenterAdministrator | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

James Dennis speaking at OpenDemocracy event tomorrow on the future of mass party politics

The NPCU's James Dennis will speak at a debate tomorrow, April 24: After the Party? The Future of and After the Mass Party. In collaboration with OurKingdom, the Centre for the Study of British Politics and Public Life at Birkbeck are hosting this free debate about the future of mass party politics - is radical reform needed, or will we move beyond parties completely?

April 24 2014, 18:15 - 20:00

Birkbeck College, Dept. of Politics

Room 101, 30 Russell Square

Speakers:

Liam Barrington Bush (More Like People)

Nick Anstead (LSE)

Barbara Zollner (Birkbeck)

Jason Edwards (Birkbeck)

Neal Lawson (Compass)

James Dennis (Royal Holloway)

Free and open to all, but booking is required: RSVP to britishpoliticscentre@bbk.ac.uk

Posted on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 01:50PM by Registered CommenterAdministrator | Comments Off | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

#SocMediaAME: O'Loughlin on keynote panel at Social Media Analysis workshop, Glasgow 25 April

The University of Glasgow will host a workshop on Friday 25 April 2014 on the theme Social Media Analysis: Methods and Ethics. The NPCU's Ben O'Loughlin is part of the keynote panel and will look at the role of media analytics in elections, looking back to the UK 2010 election and ahead to 2015.

If you are in Glasgow, do come along. Register for free here.

Keynote panel, 2.25pm:

Mike Thelwall Twitter Analysis for the Social Sciences and Humanities

Ben O'Loughlin Semantic Polling: The 2010 UK General Election and the Ethics of Social Media Monitoring

Louis Reynolds Application of the ESRC's principles of ethical research to the evolution of social media analytics tool

Francesco D'Orazio Making Sense of Social Data

Andy Miah Mobile Media & Morality: Cultivating Ethical Practice in Social Media Research

Thanks to Stevie Docherty and Giuliana Tiripelli for organising the event.

Posted on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 07:45AM by Registered CommenterAdministrator | Comments Off | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

O'Loughlin on keynote panel at Social Media Analysis workshop, Glasgow 25 April

The University of Glasgow will host a workshop on Friday 25 April 2014 on the theme Social Media Analysis: Methods and Ethics. Ben O'Loughlin is part of the keynote panel and will look at the role of media analytics in elections, looking back to the UK 2010 election and ahead to 2015.

If you are in Glasgow, do come along. Register for free here.

Keynote panel: Ethics

Mike Thelwall Twitter Analysis for the Social Sciences and Humanities

Ben O'Loughlin Semantic Polling: The 2010 UK General Election and the Ethics of Social Media Monitoring

Louis Reynolds Application of the ESRC's principles of ethical research to the evolution of social media analytics tool

Francesco D'Orazio Making Sense of Social Data

Andy Miah Mobile Media & Morality: Cultivating Ethical Practice in Social Media Research

Posted on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 07:37AM by Registered CommenterAdministrator | Comments Off | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

All Hail the Keyboard Radical? James Dennis presenting at the PSA Annual Conference

NPCU PhD student James Dennis will presented at this year's Political Studies Association (PSA) Annual Conference in Manchester on 14-16 April 2014. Please find details below of his paper and the panel time and place.

Tuesday 15th April, 09:00-10:30

Panel Title: Media and Politics 1: New Media and Political Participation

Fairclough Suite

All Hail the Keyboard Radical? A New Research Agenda for Political Participation and Social Media

Slacktivism has become synonymous with a negative perception of the political value of social media. However, the critique is flawed by an overtly narrow focus. In order to critically analyse the relationship between social media and political participation we must first develop a comprehensive understanding of the environment in which these new forms of social and political self-expression take place. This paper will illustrate the conceptual weaknesses of slacktivism and propose an alternate research agenda based on a number of conceptual recommendations.

Firstly, the emphasis on actions ignores the role that social-networking sites play in relation to information exchange, discursive engagement, and political mobilisation. Furthermore the focus on social media in isolation ignores the multifaceted engagement strategies that political actors employ, and the expansive, hybrid media system that such tools operate within. Thirdly, slacktivism is often deemed to be lazy activism. However, given the time- pressure that citizens experience day-to-day, the granular nature of web 2.0 technologies may lower the threshold for involvement in spheres that were traditionally controlled by political professionals. Finally, slacktivism is often labelled as inauthentic or narcissistic. However, as users navigate the fluid terrain of public, semi-public, and private spaces online, our personal identity must remain reflexive.

Posted on Monday, April 14, 2014 at 03:20PM by Registered CommenterAdministrator | Comments Off | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Lords Soft Power report published - Power and Persuasion

The House of Lords Select Committee on Soft Power and the UK’s Influence has published its Report, Persuasion and Power in the Modern World. The NPCU's Prof. Ben O'Loughlin was specialist advisor to the committee. Read the report: html or pdf

The Committee found that British influence and effectiveness in a changed world now requires different methods of exercising power, in order to safeguard national security and maintain prosperity. The nature and distribution of power is altering because of the transformation of global communication, and government must adapt or lose influence. Put simply, the question of communication is at the heart of international affairs in the 21st century, and this will have major consequences. 

While strong Armed Forces remain the bedrock in safeguarding national interests, the Report argues that new kinds of power projection are now required, both to make the use of force (‘hard power’) more effective and in some instances to replace it with the deployment of what has been labelled ‘soft power’.

Soft power involves getting what a country wants by influencing other countries to want the same thing, through attraction, persuasion and co-option.  

The Committee says that the information and digital revolution has transformed foreign relations, meaning that the UK must win over new and wider audiences to its point of view. The Report points out that countries worldwide have re-directed resources towards soft power methods of influence. 

To ensure that the exercise of soft power takes its place at the core of government policy-making, the Report calls for the creation of a new strategic unit at the heart of Government. Its purpose would be to assist the Prime Minister in ensuring all Departments understand the importance of soft power and of upholding the UK’s reputation, and in swiftly counteracting any potentially damaging policies or messages. 

While investing in soft power takes time to produce results, the Report urges the Government to make a number of important changes:

  • The Committee welcomes the growing number of British embassies and consulates, but urges that embassies be fully resourced as they become more central to the UK’s aims.
  • The Committee endorses the widespread view that international students be removed from net migration targets.
  • The Report calls for stronger recognition of the potential of the Commonwealth network, which opens the door to new fast-growth world markets. It urges stronger Government support for British English. It also welcomes the re-opening of the FCO Language Centre.
  • The Committee calls for a review of how well the MOD, the FCO and DFID have cooperated in Afghanistan.
  • The Committee also calls on UKTI to encourage more follow-up work after trade missions.
  • The Report suggests that the UK should act with greater confidence on the international stage, while building its relationships with both old allies and new partners.

Over the past year Ben and the team received an astonishing volume of written evidence and heard oral evidence from leading figures across all sectors of UK industry, culture and politics, as well as diplomats, ambassadors and experts from other countries who put the UK's soft power in comparative perspective. For further information about the report please contact Ben.OLoughlin@rhul.ac.uk. 

Posted on Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 11:14AM by Registered CommenterAdministrator | Comments Off | EmailEmail | PrintPrint