Conflict, Violence and Memory NUBS 2.03
Jul 06, 2023 13:30 - 15:00(Europe/London)
20230706T1330 20230706T1500 Europe/London 7.9. Memory, Violence, Conflict and Peace-building

This panel explores the legacy and impact of traumatic conflict in the lives, minds and memories of those who have experienced cycles of hostility and violence. Based on rich interdisciplinary ethnographic research in Lebanon, Iraq, Central African Republic (CAR) and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) it examines how bodies, urban landscapes and social norms are shaped by war and destruction and continue to impact everyday realities through absences, memories, trauma and scarring. The four papers build on similar cross cutting themes but observe: how historic communal violence contributes to extreme Islamist recruitment in Tripoli, Lebanon (Craig Larkin); how bodily sites and urban spaces of suffering can become avenues through which war continues to be experienced after re-integration in Central Africa (Pauline Zerla); how kidnapping and prolonged hostage experience affects beliefs and understandings of justice and revenge in Lebanon (Rajan Basra); and what role can and should collective memory play in contexts of urbicide and post-conflict recovery such as the attempt to rebuild Mosul as a vibrant cosmopolitan city. This panel will provide both a significant theoretical discussion around the role and impact of memory in conflict affected societies as well providing original empirical insights from four diverging contexts of relevance to scholars, policy makers and peace-building practitioners.

Dr Craig Larkin

Islamist prisoners, traumatic memory and recurring violence in Tripoli, Lebanon.Tripoli has a long history as an Islamist stronghold in Lebanon – more recently as a base for ISIS recruitment and a gateway for fighters to enter the ongoing Syrian civil conflict. While scholars have sought to delineate the causes and mobilizing factors: poverty ...

NUBS 2.03 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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This panel explores the legacy and impact of traumatic conflict in the lives, minds and memories of those who have experienced cycles of hostility and violence. Based on rich interdisciplinary ethnographic research in Lebanon, Iraq, Central African Republic (CAR) and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) it examines how bodies, urban landscapes and social norms are shaped by war and destruction and continue to impact everyday realities through absences, memories, trauma and scarring. The four papers build on similar cross cutting themes but observe: how historic communal violence contributes to extreme Islamist recruitment in Tripoli, Lebanon (Craig Larkin); how bodily sites and urban spaces of suffering can become avenues through which war continues to be experienced after re-integration in Central Africa (Pauline Zerla); how kidnapping and prolonged hostage experience affects beliefs and understandings of justice and revenge in Lebanon (Rajan Basra); and what role can and should collective memory play in contexts of urbicide and post-conflict recovery such as the attempt to rebuild Mosul as a vibrant cosmopolitan city. This panel will provide both a significant theoretical discussion around the role and impact of memory in conflict affected societies as well providing original empirical insights from four diverging contexts of relevance to scholars, policy makers and peace-building practitioners.



Dr Craig Larkin

Islamist prisoners, traumatic memory and recurring violence in Tripoli, Lebanon.

Tripoli has a long history as an Islamist stronghold in Lebanon – more recently as a base for ISIS recruitment and a gateway for fighters to enter the ongoing Syrian civil conflict. While scholars have sought to delineate the causes and mobilizing factors: poverty and unemployment; religiosity and Salafist preaching; community threat perception; sectarian grievance (Nassif, 2021; Rougier 2015). Little attention or research has been directed towards exploring local narratives or communal memories of these Islamist recruits. This paper is based on 38 in depth interviews with Islamist ex-prisoners from Tripoli (2021-22), all formerly held in Roumieh prison on terrorist charges of fighting in Syria or in domestic Lebanese conflicts and being members of proscribed Islamist terrorist organisations – ISIS (Da'ish), Jubhat al-Nusra and Fatah al-Islam. The paper examines how family and communal memories help shape belief structures, frame social norms and legitimate violent behaviour. The paper provides rich insights into how Islamist narratives infuse past trauma and present injustices – from communal massacres in the 1980's to ongoing concerns of Sunni victimhood and Syrian oppression. This paper provides a valuable contribution concerning intergenerational trauma and Islamist recruitment, linking mobilization to recurring cycles of violence which have never been adequately broken.


Pauline Zerla

Visualizing Wartime: Place, Space and the body as physical memories of war and trauma in Central Africa.

This paper explores experiences of war, displacement, and reintegration in Central Africa. It investigates the physical memories of war and the ways in which they shape experiences of displacement, of return and of reintegration. Specifically, it focuses on places, spaces, and the body as the avenues through which war continues to be experienced after displacement and reintegration. The paper argues that the physical illustrations of trauma that continue to be experienced offer key insights into youth postwar legacies. It frames displacement, return and reintegration as fundamentally lived experiences anchored in trauma reminders of conflict. The project utilises an interdisciplinary methodological approach anchored in narrative research to bring individual histories of war, of displacement and of reintegration to the forefront of the academic enquiry. Through body-mapping and narrative interviewing, it demonstrates how these physical legacies challenge narratives of war to peace transition in Central Africa. Body mapping is an embodied research method that places research participants at the centre of data collection and knowledge creation. The paper is based on narrative discussions conducted with 50 youth in the Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo (2022) to provide thematic insights into experiences of displacement, trauma, and war. The resulting histories highlight the physical legacies of war in Central Africa through their embodied illustrations.


Dr Rajan Basra

The Arsal Kidnappings in Lebanon: The Memories of Hostages' Families and their Attitudes Towards Justice, Reconciliation, and Revenge.

In August 2014, Islamist militants overran the Lebanese town of Arsal and kidnapped over 30 servicemen from the Lebanese Army and the Internal Security Forces. The ensuing negotiation process lasted over a year, resulting in the release of 16 hostages, the execution of 4 others, and the unexplained deaths of the remaining 10. Although the episode was widely reported on in the Lebanese press, it has been entirely overlooked within the scholarly literature on conflict, terrorism, trauma, and memory. However, there is much that the Arsal kidnappings can reveal. This paper is based on interviews with 30 families who had loved ones kidnapped in Arsal. All of them were actively involved in the efforts to secure the release of the hostages, either by directly negotiating with the captors or pressuring the Lebanese authorities through public protests or private meetings. The paper presents a thematic analysis of the families' attitudes towards justice, reconciliation, revenge, and memory, which gives valuable insight into how terrorism (and kidnappings specifically) can affect its victims.


Dr Inna Rudolf

Memory, Violence and Post conflict Reconstruction: Re imagining Mosul

Five years following Mosul's liberation from the extremist reign of Islamic State (IS), competing approaches to reviving the city's historical legacy continue to stir controversy among practitioners, donors, and conflict-affected local communities. IS's deliberate destruction of Mosul's cultural heritage (2014-2017) was both a demonstration of radical Salafist iconoclasm and a strategic commitment to urbicide - the purposeful targeting of the city's plural history and precarious co-existence. The challenge of reversing such processes and rebuilding Mosul as a vibrant cosmopolitan city invariably leads to questions over funding, political will, displacement, social re-integration, and the key role of individual and collective memory in post-conflict recovery. What type of new Mosul is being imagined and what is selectively forgotten? How can the traumatic past be navigated without embedding social grievances or romanticizing tolerance discourses? How should their demands for collective remembrance be reconciled with the arguments of those actively calling for the eradication of all physical sites of pain and gross atrocities? This research explores the impact of urbicide, as reflected in Mosul's built environment but also its implications for citizens' feelings of identity and belonging. Based on over 40 interviews and field observations within Mosul (2022) the paper examines the narratives embraced and internalized by both Moslawis as well as different community representatives residing in Sinjar and the Ninawa plains. Drawing on these competing memory narratives, the paper reflects on Mosul's ongoing reconstruction initiatives, as shaped and driven by actors (local/international) vying for the right to re-envision Mosul. Showcasing the diversity of perspectives from within the city and its periphery, on what is to be remembered and what is to be suppressed, the paper seeks to draw lessons not just for the stalled reconstruction process of the built environment but also for the reimagining of the city's future as a resurrected symbol of resilience, tolerance, and co-existence. 

Reader in Middle East Politics and Peace and Conflict Studies
,
King's College London
PhD candidate
,
King’s college London
Senior Research Fellow
,
King's College London
Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
,
King's College London
Reader in Middle East Politics and Peace and Conflict Studies
,
King's College London
Associate Professor
,
Brigham Young University
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