PreviousPage NextPage Title Contents

Peace Research Institutions and Projects


Institut für Interkulturelle und Internationale Studien (InIIS)

In General

In today's world, where certain traditional social and political demarcations are disappearing, symbolic boundaries, cultural differences, and the conflicts associated with these are acquiring a new significance. At the same time as cultural dividing-lines and a multiplicity of group identities are being asserted, numerous forms of social interlinkage, interaction, and communication are taking shape across group divisions and national frontiers.

The InIIS is an interdisciplinary research-institute that investigates these social and cultural processes of change, and the problems of integration associated with them, from the perspective of the social and political sciences. The InIIS focuses on two areas. On the one hand, it looks at cultural differentiation, the persistence and emergence of a multiplicity of cultures and group identities, and the conflicts linked to these, particularly in the modern Western world, but also at the international level. On the other hand, it observes processes of globalization and denationalization, their manifestations, causes, and consequences. This naturally leads to the question of the links between these two developments. Reflecting this dual concern, the institute's projects are currently grouped into two sections.

Work in the `Cultural Difference' section is concerned mainly with analysing the kinds of social and cultural phenomena that are nowadays often summed up in the popular term `multiculturalism'. This includes, most importantly, the role of socio-cultural groups for whom cultural boundaries and differences, or perceived differences, are an important constituent element, and also the role of various forms of collective symbolic identity. The major objects of investigation are migrant groups, national minorities, and certain currents of religious thought in present-day Western countries. Research is concentrated on establishing to what extent, or in what conditions, international migration produces cultural pluralism in Western countries. Another area of interest is the way in which collective self-images emerge, are handed down, or are changed at the level of national societies. Public discourses are a central focus of attention here. Linked to these investigations are various questions regarding integration: What role do cultural differences play as regards the content and course of conflicts within modernized societies? What degree and what forms of cultural homogeneity do these societies need to be able to maintain social order and integration? What kinds, if any, of cultural homogeneity are possible or likely? And how can differences be accommodated? Within this section, the empirical-analytical research is linked up with philosophical investigations relating mainly to normative problems. The significance which the relationship of groups to history and tradition has in regard to normative claims currently plays an important role here.

The development of world politics since the end of the East-West conflict is the overall guiding theme of the `Global Relations' section. This section concerns itself mainly with the current increase in interaction across nation-state boundaries. The ever denser network of linkages is resulting on the one hand in new cultural problems and on the other in new challenges to political leaderships. In relation to the first development: a politicization of `culture' (systems of values) is discernible at regional and global level. Analysis of these cultural problems forms one of the focal points of the section's work. The core issue is that of the preconditions for peaceful co-existence between different `cultures'. In tackling this, one has to clarify what precise phenomena are involved, when and why these developments follow a conflictual course or are `politicized', and how such conflicts of values can be settled in a reasonable manner. On the second point: the intensification of exchange and production across state borders is creating entirely new problems for government in the highly developed industrial countries. Analysis of the social and political effects of, and reactions to, these processes of globalization forms a second field of work in this section. Closely related to the problems just described is, thirdly, the question of how international and transnational institutions might be created which would make possible the continuance/resumption of democratically legitimated political direction. In what conditions is it possible to establish institutions of governance that are democratically legimitated and at the same time provide an effective means of tackling transnational problems in the economic, environmental, cultural, and security domains?

So: whereas the `Cultural Difference' section takes an analytical and normative look at perceived cultural differences and new demarcations and their effects on the integration of modern societies, the `Global Relations' section examines the consequences of ever denser linkages on political conflicts and on the way these are dealt with. Only when these two fundamental processes of social transformation are considered together will we have an adequate grasp of current processes of political change. The social sciences can only make a constructive contribution to these processes of change if empirical-analytical analyses are linked up with normative considerations. The aim of the InIIS is to bring together on the one hand research on the increase in social interdependences and cultural demarcations and on the other empirical-analytic and normative investigation. The fact that, in so doing, boundaries between the scientific disciplines must be broken down, constitutes both a challenge and an opportunity.

Other Tasks

Besides its scientific research, the InIIS performs a variety of other tasks. The main one is that of promoting public discussion of scholarly contributions to the topic-area with which the institute is concerned. At present, this purpose is fulfilled mainly by the InIIS series `Kultur im Konflikt'. As a way of fostering interdisciplinary debate within the university and in order to promote communication with supra-regional specialist groups, the InIIS plays a leading role, along with representatives of other Bremen-based social and cultural research establishments, in organizing academic colloquia. Although the institute sees its task as lying primarily in the field of empirical investigation at the academic level, it is interested in exchanging experiences with representatives of institutions and groups that deal with similar problems on the ground. As regards university teaching and training, the InIIS is currently involved in the development of options in `Cultural Differences and Conflicts' and `Globalization and International Institutions' for the political-science course.

The InIIS was set up by the political scientists Michael Zürn and Bernhard Peters and the sociologist Dieter Senghaas as a separate unit within the social-sciences department, and has been jointly directed by these three since that date. The `Global Relations' section is headed by Dieter Senghaas and Michael Zürn, and the `Cultural Difference' section by Bernhard Peters--who also acts as spokesperson for the institute. There are currently eighteen research assistants and four administrative staff employed at the InIIS. The permanent posts are either university posts, funded out of subject-specific budgets, or else are financed by third-party funds--notably an eight-year fixed-term subsidy from the government of Bremen (the Senate).

Contact: Universität Bremen, InIIS/Fachbereich 8, Postfach 33 00 40, D-28334 Bremen, Tel.: +49 (421) 218-4298, Fax: +49 (421) 218-7248, http://www.uni-bremen.de/-iniis

The `Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation of Disputes' Foundation

The word `reconciliation' has been much in use lately in Albania. In a society, such as that of Albania, which has been repeatedly rocked by conflict, there is a need to return to traditional strategies of reconciliation and to supplement these with new ideas appropriate to the present age.

It was with this in mind that the `Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation of Disputes' Foundation was set up in December 1995. It is a non-religious, non-profit-making non-governmental group that brings together researchers from the social sciences, the humanities, and jurisprudence in Albania. The foundation's main areas of interest are the non-military resolution of social conflicts through mediation and the encouragement of tolerance and mutual respect within the family and within various social groupings in Albanian society.

One important project being conducted by the foundation involves training mediators and setting up a mediation network covering all the provinces of Albania. With the aid of training seminars, interested individuals are trained to recognize and deal with conflicts and are taught the most effective methods of mediation. A first set of mediation centres has already been set up in Tirana, Shkodra, and Vlora, and in the first quarter of 1998, they carried out a total of thirty-six mediations--in conflicts such as family disputes, blood-feuds, and quarrels over property--of which twenty-five turned out successfully.

Peaceful mechanisms of conflict resolution need to be practised as early as possible in life. A pilot project has therefore been started in twelve selected schools. This involves training seminars and summer schools at which teachers and students are taught about conflict resolution and mediation. A training seminar on the same themes was also held at the faculty of law and sociology of the University of Tirana. All these activities are eventually to be combined into a Centre for Conflict Resolution and Mediation.

In order to extend basic knowledge in this area, a questionnaire-based survey is being used to identify conflicts that might be tackled through mediation. The survey will also include investigation of the print-media, to see what coverage is given to which conflicts, and what role journalists play in conflicts. A draft law is also to be composed, in which mediation is recognized as an official alternative for resolving conflicts.

The foundation's publications are available free of charge to legal, educational, and cultural bodies and NGOs. Five issues of its quarterly journal Reconciliation have so far been published.

Contact: Rasim Gjoka, Rr. Him Kolli, No. 45, Tirana, Albania, Tel./Fax: +355 (42) 32739, e-mail: gjoka@ngo.org.al

European University Center for Peace Studies (EPU)

Theory and Practice Combined: A New Course in Schlaining

The European University Center for Peace Studies is a non-governmental organization with UNESCO status which provides the setting for international study and research, particularly courses on peace research, peace education, and conflict resolution. Its membership consists of universities, international UNESCO commissions, and peace-research institutes from over twenty OSCE countries. Since 1990, courses in peace studies have been conducted in English by scholars from Austria and abroad.

On his appointment as director of the EPU, Wolf-Dieter Eberwein of the Wissenschaftszentrum in Berlin was asked to overhaul the programme of studies. The fruit of these efforts is a new course, introduced in August 1998, leading to the award of a `Master of Advanced Studies'. The two-term course aims to combine theory and practice. It covers, on the one hand, the basics of peace research, with special emphasis on the two alternative cross-sectoral domains of peace/development/conflict transformation/shaping of peace, and co-operation/conflict mediation, and, on the other, the theory and practice of peace work. In the first field (basics), there are preliminary courses in the specialist elements of peace research--anthropology, ethnology, history, economics, theory of education, philosophy, political science, and international relations, psychology, sociology, and international law. The second field (peace work) brings together theoretical insights and practical aspects of conflict resolution. The course aims to cover the whole area systematically, from prevention, through mediation, to rehabilitation. In addition, there is a further area tackling the practical aspects of peace work. Included in this is work with the media, the evaluation of peacebuilding measures, stress management, the creation of networks, project management, and report-writing.

Contact: Wolf-Dieter Eberwein, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin, Reichpietschufer 50, D-10785 Berlin, Tel.: +49 (30) 25491-564, Fax: +49 (30) 25491-561, e-mail: Eberwein@medea.wz-berlin.de For the EPU: Burg Schlaining, A-7461 Stadtschlaining, Österreich, Tel.: +43 (3355) 2498, Fax: +43 (3355) 2662, e-mail: epu@epu.ac.at, http://www.aspr.ac.at


PreviousPage NextPage Title Contents