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Research Grants and Awards


Projektverbund Friedens- und Konfliktforschung in Niedersachsen

The regional government of Lower Saxony has decided to extend the life of the Projektverbund Friedens- und Konfliktforschung in Niedersachsen (Association for the Support of Projects on Peace and Conflict Research in Lower Saxony) by five years (1998-2003). A request for extension was made in summer 1997, and because of the extraordinarily successful work done by the association, the Ministry of Science and Culture decided that the arrangement should continue. In view of the cut-backs in funding that peace research has had to undergo in the last few years, this is a success which makes consolidation of the very fruitful research into peace carried out in Lower Saxony a tangible possibility.

Over the next five years, the association will be giving support at regular intervals to research-projects that are looking into what prompts the violent settlement of conflicts and into the possibilities of, and conditions under which, conflicts might be handled in a peaceful way. The research focuses mainly on internal social conflicts, with the accent on four specific areas: (1) intercultural conflicts and migration; (2) feminist aspects of peace and conflict research; (3) effects of globalization likely to produce conflict; (4) forms of constructive conflict resolution. Funding for topics outside these core areas is possible in exceptional cases, provided the project for which application has been made can be expected to show innovative approaches and produce results that advance the bounds of peace and conflict research. Applications from the areas of economics, law, and the natural sciences are particularly welcome.

The research must be conducted at a university or Fachhochschule (advanced technical college) in Lower Saxony. All applications must make clear what contribution the project can be expected to make to peace and conflict research and what relevance the findings will have to the peaceful settlement of conflicts. There should also be some indication of the relevance of the project to Lower Saxony. Further information on funding and applications can be obtained from the project co-ordinator.

Contact: Prof. Günter Bierbrauer (Co-ordinator)/Dr Gudrun Schwarzer (Administrator), Projektverbund Friedens- und Konfliktforschung in Niedersachsen, Universität Osnabrück/FB 8, Seminarstr. 20, D-49069 Osnabrück, Tel.: +49 (541) 969-4803, Fax: +49 (541) 969-4763, e-mail: bierbrauer@luce.psycho.uni-osnabrueck. de

Volkswagen Foundation I

The processes of transformation going on in eastern Europe are not occurring in isolation from the international context. The efforts of eastern European states to secure membership of the EU or NATO nicely illustrate the close links between internal political developments and the international situation. But the various groups of actors involved often lack knowledge and awareness of the background to international links and of their specific characteristics.

This is where the universities are called upon to provide eastern European graduates with an idea of the bearing which particular factors have on international relations. What needs to be taught is the skill of adopting a critical stance vis-^-vis simplistic explanations, of tolerating differences, of applying a variety of viewpoints and methods, and of accepting interdependencies and bridges as a framework for individual action.

It is against this background that the project `International Relations: A Task for Regional Educational Establishments in Central and Eastern Europe' needs to be viewed. The project was launched in December 1997 at the Free University of Berlin's Eastern Europe Institute, under the direction of Dr Klaus Segbers. The Volkswagen Foundation is providing funding of DM268,500 for the project, as part of its programme-area `Common Road to Europe: Foundations and Examples of Co-operation with Central and Eastern Europe in the Humanities and Social Sciences'.

The project aims to bring together committed researchers from a number of universities in Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Belarus, and the Ukraine, to develop a curriculum for the study of international relations. The central question will be how young people in eastern Europe can be trained in a way that will enable them to cope with the tasks confronting them in international politics.

Three conferences scheduled to take place over a period of twenty-four months will form the framework within which an appropriate syllabus will be developed. Two of the conferences will be hosted by project partners in eastern Europe. In addition, the process of linking up the various eastern European universities will be begun, via an exchange of visiting lecturers. Finally, all those participating in the co-operation-project will be asked to work on specific parts of the curriculum. This `building-block' approach is intended to produce a multi-faceted collection of issues, fields of action, methods, and theoretical approaches essential to the teaching of international relations.

A crucial element in the project will be the dual task of the eastern European researchers: on the one hand, they have to address basic aspects of international politics, on the other they have constantly to bear in mind how the newly formulated subject-matter can be passed on to students. The Eastern Europe Institute at the Free University of Berlin will assume the function of mediator and catalyst in this process.

Contact: Prof. Klaus Segbers, Freie Universität Berlin, Garystr. 55, D-14195 Berlin, Tel.: +49 (30) 838 4058/2088, Fax: +49 838 3616, e-mail: segbers@zedat.fu-berlin.de, http://volkswagen-stiftung.de/presse98/pm02.htm

Volkswagen Foundation II

The wars that took place in former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 1995 led many observers to conclude that multicultural societies were (at least potentially) doomed to failure and actually fostered the eruption of violence. The peoples of Yugoslavia in particular, it was argued, were too diverse to be able or willing to live permanently and peacefully together without political repression. When communist rule came to an end, it was claimed, the national differences had erupted under the pressure of long-repressed anger. Hence, Yugoslavia's multi-ethnic and multicultural society had been no more than an illusion from the outset. But there is no evidence to back this interpretation; and there is a danger not only that there will be an incorrect assessment of the situation in former Yugoslavia, but that erroneous conclusions will also be drawn in respect of other multi-ethnic states.

Professor Sundhaussen of the East Europe Institute at the Free University of Berlin and Professor Wolfgang Höpken of the Department of History at the University of Leipzig are working with colleagues from Belgrade to try and establish whether Yugoslavian identity was indeed only a faade until the end of the 1980s, or whether it was an accepted reality assented to by broad sections of society, and also to find an explanation for the shift to dissension in the 1990s. The Volkswagen Foundation is providing funding of approximately DM65,000 for the study, as part of its programme-area `Das Fremde und das Eigene: Problems and Possibilities of Intercultural Understanding'.

Most people in modern societies have several social identities. They identify not only with a state-based people but with a particular social group, religion, professional group, confessional community, and so on. Multiple identities of this kind are not the exception but the rule.

In the case of Yugoslavia, many citizens found the special path their country had followed after 1945 undeniably attractive, and they therefore felt able to identify with `Yugoslavism'. The generations that grew up after the Second World War wanted Yugoslavians who were ethnically 'other' to be part of what was identified overall as `own'. Just how widespread and deeply rooted this Yugoslavian identity was is impossible to say given the present state of research. One reason for this is that population censuses of the time did not allow for multiple answers (e.g. in 1981 only 5.4 per cent of the population declared themselves to be Yugoslavian).

One thing is certain: the increasing socio-economic problems from which Yugoslavia suffered from the end of the 1970s, leading to the impoverishment of large sections of the population, and also the adoption of the 1974 constitution, diminished the cohesive force of political Yugoslavism. On top of this, in the sphere of international relations, there was the declining importance of the non-aligned movement and, ultimately, the collapse of the `real socialist' systems and disappearance of the antagonism between East and West, all of which aggravated the problems of identification. One thing that has still not been explained is how those who were `other' managed to turn into bitter opponents and how even communities, friendships, and families had dividing-lines drawn through them during the conflict.

There are a number of indications that this change in identity had been deliberately aimed at since the 1960s but was not achieved until the 1980s. It is hoped that analysis of statistics, questionnaires, archive material, and media-sources, more detailed information will be gained about these processes of alienation, which ultimately resulted in the `ethnic cleansing' witnessed during the recent hostilities.

If it is confirmed that national multiple identity did actually function, at least in part, this would mean that former Yugoslavia, and other multi-ethnic states, were not doomed to failure per se. Ethno-nationalism would thus not simply be there to begin with, or, rather than being there, would be a `potentiality' that can be activated--and therefore also deactivated. Collective identity would therefore not be a matter of `fate'; it would depend on the ambitions which the particular leaders of opinion had as to how society was to be shaped.

Contact: Prof. Holm Sundhaussen, Osteuropa-Institut, Freie Universität Berlin, Garystr. 55, D-14195 Berlin, Tel.: +49 (30) 838-2036, Fax: +49 (30) 838-4036, e-mail: sundhaus@zedat.fu-berlin.de, http://volkswagen-stiftung.de/presse98/pm04.htm


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