Category Archives: Peace

How are we approaching the research into culture, conflict and community?

If I asked you to tell me about your community, what would you say? If I asked you to tell me what your community thinks about the conflicts that it is involved in (this is not the same as violence, every community has differences and conflicts!), how would you explain it? Would you choose stories, tell me about events you do together, or symbols that unite you? Would it be easier to explain the conflicts between the generations, that the community has with ‘outsiders’, or link it to the past?

In peace and conflict studies we don’t have a set methodology for finding out the intricate differences of lived experience in communities and how that might be important to our understanding of conflict and peace, and we have often relied on social science methods of interviews or data that has already been categorised into aspects we want to know about. In this research we are drawing on other disciplines to see if we can find a way of listening with curiosity and are not restricting our understanding because of preconceptions that we have.

We are drawing on ethnography, and particularly the way of observing and noting everything that people say, wear or do, as potentially important in understanding. We are drawing on community engagement work where evidence suggests that there is power in the process of communities stating and sharing their visions and perceptions, so by asking and listening we already change some of that relationship. We are drawing on cultural studies and the way in which it frames the importance of lived experience and the embedded nature of culture. We are drawing on feminist approaches to understanding power.

Some work has been done, for example John Paul Lederach’s work in Nepal where the close working with communities revealed environmental conflicts that had been hidden, or in his book ‘When Blood and Bones Cry out’ where social healing is explored through stories. Adam Curle’s work also from peace studies is focused on the building of relationships. Historian Mandy Sadan has been collecting stories in Myanmar, with a different focus, and has put collections of photographs and stories online.

I have done desk research, and I think there is so much we can learn from Myanmar about the power in our own communities and the importance of enquiring about the conflicts within and between us, and more consciousness about the way we give our culture meaning.

Why am I going to Myanmar to do research?

Monday 6th November.

I am curious about the way people in local communities share their opinions and wishes about how they want to live, or how they manage to influence those controlling money and resources. This curiosity has led me to wonder how rural communities in the U.K. negotiate to keep, and source, services, and the ways they make their needs known to government or agencies. In this I have been working with a small voluntary organisation for many years. My work on Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping is about how communities use protection strategies to help create new relationships in their areas and how this enables them to create spaces for peace. The communities we live in are incredibly complex, many individuals, families, businesses and services all in a web and then relating to the other intermediate and national levels of decision-making, and I am seeking ways of understanding this complexity and how we could be giving it more power.
I think it’s important that communities can influence what happens to them because if we want peace, then it is about strong relationships and trust, but in order for people to have the space and energy to build these, then basic needs of shelter, food, safety and health need to be met…and so being able to communicate needs, and get support for meeting those needs, means communities being able to speak.

Our research in Myanmar is exploring this focus on the importance of communities by taking one step further and wondering how we can learn and understand what communities know and want by listening to how they give meaning to aspects of culture. In Myanmar we will be talking to people about their culture, and through stories, music, art, and craft learn about how communities see themselves and the way they communicate their knowledge and ideas to others. Myanmar is a place we can learn a lot from because of the dramatic changes it has undergone in recent years and so people in communities will have new options.

As well as being able to learn more about the roles communities take on themselves, and the way meaning is expressed through culture, we will be reflecting on the link between conflict, violence and peace in relation to cultural stories.

The ‘right to peaceful protest in the U.K.’ and private ownership of land.

Call for research information: Have you peacefully protested on privately owned land or buildings in the UK and been asked to leave? If so, would you be able to tell me about it so I can gather a picture of the issues raised?

I am researching the way in which changing ownership of land and buildings in the UK, that can look like public space or public buildings, is having an effect on the ‘right to peaceful protest’.

I have anecdotal stories and information, and some from my own experience, but I am interested to know how widespread the issue is, and if it is having a wider impact on peaceful protest that we don’t yet know about. Examples include the Occupy camp being moved off the privately owned ‘public space’ in the City, or rules about not being able to protest in privately owned shopping centres.

I have spent most of my life as a peace activist and organiser and currently teach Peace Studies at Leeds Beckett University. I want to write and talk about the impact of increasing private ownership of land on peaceful protest and the ‘right to peaceful protest’.

To take part in this research I am looking for people who have one or more experiences of peaceful protest on private land (buildings, shopping centres, ‘public space’, etc) who would be happy to share that experience and tell me about what happened and any other impacts or opinions you have about it 

To share your experiences we can either meet in person, by phone/skype, or correspond by email. Participation is entirely voluntary and you can withdraw at any time. I am only collecting information about the circumstances and experiences of the protest not about you.

By sharing your experiences you will be helping to build a better picture and understanding of the impact of increasing sale of public land into private ownership.

If you would like to join in, and be able to meet in person, by phone or email please let me know and contact me before December 31st 2016.

My contact details are:

Rachel Julian

Leeds Beckett University

Bruce Kent speaking for nuclear disarmament.

Events with Peace Studies at Leeds Beckett

EventsMonday 21st September 3.30-5pm – Friends Meeting House, London

Presentation of Nonviolent Peacekeeping research carried out at Leeds Beckett University by Dr Rachel Julian

You can book here

16-20th November – Leeds

Politics and Applied Global Ethics Festival – including speakers and workshops on Global inequalities, Development, Corruption and Violence.

Friday 20th November – Leeds 

All day workshop on Nonviolence and Nonviolent Strategy a Leeds Beckett University.

Wednesday-Thursday 27-28th January 2016 – Leeds Beckett University

Preparatory Conference on Militarisation and the Transformation from a War Economy to a Peace Economy. Feeding to the World Congress in Berlin in September 2016.

Call for papers is here.

September 20th- October 2nd 2016 – Berlin

World Congress on the Transformation of the War Economy: Disarmament for Development by the International Peace Bureau

More details here

October 14-15th 2016 – Leeds 

The Annual Peace History Conference

There is an annual seminar series open to the public

For information, to attend or volunteer for all these events please contact Rachel Julian email


Leeds Beckett University run a series of options for people wishing to study peace and social change.

We are available to offer specifically designed short courses on areas related to peace, nonviolence, disarmament, resistance, conflict resolution and peace building.

We offer both theory and practical aspects in our courses, and all our degrees or short courses encourage and enable a critical perspective on current mainstream approaches and options for achieving social change.

 Undergraduate Degree: BA (Hons) International Relations and Peace Studies

Postgraduate: MA Peace and Development

 MPhil or MRes (research based)

PhD supervision in all areas of the expertise above

Short courses: Nonviolence and Nonviolent strategy

Conflict Resolution

Developing and Managing Projects

Civilian Protection

More information is available from Leeds Beckett University or Rachel Julian.

Peace Studies at Leeds Beckett includes Dr Rachel Julian, Prof Dave Webb (Emeritus), Dr Steve Wright and Dr Robin Redhead.

We are all actively involved in both academic research and social activism. We see a close connection between teaching, research and social change and embed this in our approach to peace studies.

What is the impact of the huge global military spending?

I am working with the International Peace Bureau towards a 2016 World Congress on War Economy and Transformation: Disarmament for Development. It will be an international event focused on the issues of Global Military Spending, which doesn’t have a high profile in peace studies or political economy.

I want to set up a Network of academics who work on Global Military Spending from peace studies, which can encompass the range of impacts from climate change, post 2015 agenda, conversion, etc and alternatives to current paradigms.

I envisage the network will be able to meet, collaborate on bringing together research and organise an academic contribution to the 2016 World Congress.

International Peace Bureau set up the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) which is April each year. The website for this

If you work on issues related to Global Military Spending or on the impact it has on other social or political events please get in touch.