The writing of the third volume of the Many Peaces Magazine was underway when a series of terrorist attacks occurred in Ankara, Beirut, Paris, the Sinai region of Egypt and Tunis. As an editorial team we have struggled in finding words in the light of loss and despair as results of the violent attacks. Our discipline of Peace and Conflict Studies is certainly called upon when suicide bombers target civilian areas and when heads of states declare war against enemies that are difficult to identify. As scholars and peace facilitators, we are asked to analyze and often to provide expertise. So how do we respond? How do we position ourselves and which courses of action do we recommend?
From the perspective of elicitive conflict transformation, there is no easy answer to such questions. Our approach to conflict is systemic and relational. The experts of conflicts are always the conflicting actors and it seems key to not speak about them in a removed and potentially patronizing manner. Possible next steps rather have to be identified from within the conflicting systems themselves. It, therefore, seems necessary to not fall into simplistic moral judgments and categorizations of right and wrong, good and bad. The call of the moment should rather be to “suspend judgment” as American peace research John-Paul Lederach recommends to elicitive peace workers. Yet, suspending judgment does not imply an imperative for silence! Peace work sometimes means raising difficult questions, even when they go against the mainstream. Elicitive peace workers are facilitators but sometimes they have to be ‘difficultators.’
To this end, they acquire their own elicitive tool boxes filled with methods that they apply in conflict analysis and conflict transformation work. One such method is Theatre for Living, which was founded by Canadian theatre artist David Diamond, whom you can see on the cover of this magazine. As a former student of the Brazilian revolutionary theatre director Augusto Boal, Diamond has developed Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed further and integrated a systemic understanding of conflict into his work. Both his method and peace facilitation attitude make him an archetypical (and certainly there are many possible archetypes) elicitive peace worker. In this volume, we therefore feel honored to present not only his work but also projects that have been developed seeding from his contribution to Peace and Conflict Studies.
Click here to read the Greeting Note by David Diamond