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Peace and Conflict – Understanding Our World

This podcast series looks at conflict and peace-building around the world, from Afghanistan to Ireland, Colombia and South Africa to the Middle East.

Academics from Queen’s University, Belfast, share their experiences and reflections on how societies can transition from conflict to peace and how the traumatic political legacies of conflict can endure and continue to shape political discourse today.

Drawing from a range of expertise, Queen’s academics discuss how factors such as education and economics affect and define conflict, why people join illegal organisations, the definition of `terrorism’ itself and the impact of the marginalisation of women in peace building.

Spread across eight episodes, we hear from Queen’s University academics, whether currently working on the front-line in Afghanistan, or involved in shaping education systems in Northern Ireland and other contexts, or providing insights globally in their conflict-related research.

Afghan soldiers
Episode 1
Talking Peace – On the Front Line in Afghanistan

Analysis from Kabul on the progress of the US-backed attempt at a `Grand Bargain’ between the Taliban and the national government. Prof Michael Semple describes internal Taliban tensions over an approach to negotiations, the academic research behind the peace process and the gulf in the experience of Afghans living in cities, compared those in contested rural areas.

Hosted by Prof Richard English. Guest – Prof Michael Semple, Practitioner Chair, The Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice

"Much of the conflict in Afghanistan is waged way beyond the view of the national and international actors – they are barely able to understand it, let alone, affect it.’’ - Prof Michael Semple

"Now there are Taliban at sub-national level who are saying ``we are up to discuss the future of the country, even if the national level negotiators aren’t. All sides are going to have to be rethinking what is the relationship between national level engagement on the process and the sub-national.’’ - Prof Michael Semple

"You could sit in an afghan city and barely get a sense of a conflict being underway. The capital city, is largely cocooned inside a security belt. There is little immediate sign of the conflict. In contrast, in rural areas, particularly those areas which are contested or on the frontline, the conflict is an immediate reality." - Prof Michael Semple

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Black handgun
Episode 2
What Makes People Fight for Illegal Armed Groups?

Why do people join armed groups and what exactly is a `radical’ or a `terrorist’’? Listen as Queen’s academics discuss the definition of `terrorism’ and `radicalisation’ and how perceptions and definitions of both have shifted over the past 20 years and from era to era.

Hosted by Prof Richard English. Guests are Prof Adrian Guelke, Professor of Comparative Politics, Queen’s University and Dr Zaheer Kazmi, Research Fellow, The Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice

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"Radicalisation is not the same as radicalism. Being radical, which can involve violence, but also the pursuit of peaceful and positive transformation, I wouldn’t say is the same as radicalised in its specialised academic sense as we understand it today.’’ Dr Zaheer Kazmi.

"People don’t engage in violence for the hell of it. But very often they discover, quite early on, that violence doesn’t work. People assume if a new group starts violence it is going to go on and on, but it doesn’t go on and on. This is partly the story of Al-Qaeda and ISIS.’’ – Prof Adrien Guelke.

"Terrorism gets used in all sorts of trivial ways for condemnation. Just in the last couple of weeks, we have the famous Tiger King series – we now have Joe Exotic calling Carole Baskin a terrorist. We have the Hong Kong authorities calling the protesters there terrorists. We have Donald Trump calling for ANTIFA to be designated a terrorist.’’ – Prof Adrian Guelke.

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Black Lives Matter protest
Episode 3
Activist Feminism – Addressing Inequality

Listen as Queen’s academics from the Centre for Gender in Politics discuss the role of black feminists in the Black Lives Matter protest, the need for solidarity between feminist academics and the study of LGBT and feminist activism in post-conflict societies.

Hosted by Prof Richard English. Guests – Dr Maria Deiana and Dr Jamie Hagen from The School Of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics and the Centre for Gender in Politics

"We shouldn’t forget the gender dimension of Black Lives Matter. Black feminist scholars have been at the forefront of drawing attention to these processes of exclusion. – Dr Maria Deiana

"Black feminist scholars have faced resistance, if not outright offense. It is urgent we find ways to build solidarities.’’ – Dr Maria Deiana

"Black lives matter was born by three queer women.’’ - Dr Jamie Hagen

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Episode 4
Troubled Histories and America’s Role in NI

How do post-conflict societies that haven’t addressed the past, do so? What was the role of the US in helping create the Northern Ireland peace process, the value of field research and what roles are there for outside actors in helping address conflicted societies globally?

Host, Prof Richard English. Guests Dr Cheryl Lawther, Senior Lecturer at the School of Law and Dr Peter McLoughlin from The Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice

"To really understand objections to truth, then it is issues of identity and understanding of blame and the tension between loyalty and betrayal, we really need to work with.’’ – Dr Cheryl Lawther

"In Northern Ireland, we are more wedded to a criminal justice approach to dealing with the past. In the US what you see is different forms of dealing with the past, it might be more about apologies or reparations.’’ – Dr Cheryl Lawther

"Researching in Boston was very important. In south Boston you had exactly the same murals as in west Belfast. But you see something very different too. On St Patrick’s Day in Boston you have a celebration of Evacuation Day.’’

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Youth idles by a building at night
Episode 5
Legacy – Trying to Resolve Historic Issues from the Past

The courts as a battle ground – using the law to resolve outstanding issues from conflict. How can the courts help address historic grievances and lay to rest political disputes that are difficult to resolve.

Hosted by Prof Richard English. Guests –  Prof Kieran McEvoy, Prof Louise Mallinder and Prof Brice Dickson from Queen's School of Law.

Tables and chairs in a classroom
Episode 6
Radicalisation – Is it the Right Term to Use?

Education as a tool for reconciliation in Northern Ireland and other conflict zones. We hear from Prof Tony Gallagher, who helped pioneer shared education in N Ireland and advises in other regions, including Lebanon and Israel. We also hear about the experience of Colombia in its peace process and the factors that shape it from Dr Andrew Thomson.

Hosted by Prof Richard English. Guests - Prof Tony Gallagher and Dr Andrew Thomson from The Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice 

Titanic Quarter
Episode 7
Economics and Conflict – Cause and Solution?

How are economies managed in societies in conflict and how do organisations cope with trading and organising themselves amid political violence? We hear about different schools of economic thought, entrepreneurship and the emergence of dynamic organisations.

Hosted by Prof Richard English. Guests – Dr Graham Brownlow and Dr Joanne Murphy from Queen's Business School.

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Twin Towers on fire
Episode 8
Trauma – How Do We Deal With The Past?

The scars of trauma last long after the conflict ends. We hear from Dr Michael Duffy, who has worked with victims of 9/11 and the Manchester Bombing and Dr Laura Dunne, who helps women and children in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Hosted by Prof Richard English. Guests –  Dr Laura Dunne, Senior Lecturer, specialising in child health and wellbeing, early child development, and programme evaluation and Dr Michael Duffy, Senior lecturer specialising in cognitive therapy and trauma from the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work.

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Podcast Host

Professor Richard English is an internationally recognised historian, academic and author having conducted extensive research in Irish politics and history, political violence and terrorism.

His expertise lies in Irish history and conflict as well as the wider subject of international terrorism. In his more recent works, Professor English explores the response after 9/11 and its shortcomings, and argues that we cannot adequately respond to the practical challenge of terrorist violence around the world unless we are more honest about the precise nature of the phenomenon, and about explaining its true and complex causes.

Professor English is the author of eight books, including the award-winning studies Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA (2003) and Irish Freedom: The History of Nationalism in Ireland (2006).  His most recent book, Does Terrorism Work? A History, was published in 2016 by Oxford University Press. 

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