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Transforming Conflict and Displacement through Arts and Humanities

Credit: Ryan James Christopher (unsplash 2020)

Transforming Conflict and Displacement through Arts and Humanities, PRAXIS NEXUS, 16-27 November, 2020

Since 2015, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has made over 200 awards under the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Newton portfolio. These awards have drawn on AHRC’s research base to address development challenges that are ultimately global challenges, including poverty reduction, global health, climate change, resilience, conflict, displacement, inclusive education, and rapid urbanization.

PRAXIS exists to champion the role of Arts and Humanities research through maximising the impact of AHRC GCRF projects. The PRAXIS virtual workshop (16-27 November 2020) brought together research projects that address global challenges related to Conflict and Displacement.

The aim for the workshop was two-fold: first, to encourage networking among GCRF projects and key partners; second, to generate and collect key findings, reflections and lessons learned from GCRF projects to inform a PRAXIS report commissioned by AHRC and to be released in 2021.


Delegates engaged in discussions in three research cohorts:

  • Education in Conflict (Cohort 1)
  • Gender, intersectionality and faith perspectives (Cohort 2)
  • Peacekeeping, reparations and visions for the future (Cohort 3)


Welcome and 'Keynote' introduction/overview

Asma Khalifa is a Libyan women's rights and peace activist. Her work has spanned across numerous countries including Libya, Yemen and Syria. She won the Luxembourg Peace Prize in 2016 and was named as one of the 100 most influential young Africans of 2017 by the Africa Youth Awards.

Ruth Daniel is the CEO of In Place of War. Over the past 15 years, Ruth has worked to make change with creativity in the most marginalised communities across the world working in 24 countries. Ruth has taken an organisation routed in research around the impact of arts in conflict zones, to an organisation supporting grassroots change-makers in 24 countries to amplify their socio-economic impact.

Dr Neelam Raina is an Associate Professor of Design and Development at Middlesex University, London, and the Security, Protracted Conflict, Refugee Crises and Forced Displacement Challenge Leader, UKRI. Neelam has been working in the region of Kashmir (both Indian and Pakistani) since the early 2000s, and has conducted participatory action research including design and enterprise training for women in the region focusing on material cultures, identity and representation of the people of Kashmir.


Cross-cutting theme: Decolonial perspectives

Do projects overtly acknowledge this issue – if so, how? How does this feed into partner collaborations/co-production of knowledge? Is this an issue being explicitly funded, based on project proposals? If not, should it be? How does this perspective change or mould outcomes and impact?

Chairs: Evelyn Pauls, Jelke Boesten and Nicolas Salazar Sutil

Jack Broughman, Live Illustration.


Cross-cutting Theme: Movement/Change

Movement: displacement, migration, change - how do projects understand, build on, work through and grow from ideas of change in their research communities, home and away? How do ideas of movement and displacement differ in different projects and communities? Do projects acknowledge fluidity of research and if so, how? How does this change the way they conceptualise research in insecure / conflict settings? Could change and movement be harnessed as a tool to maximise impact of projects?

Chairs: Alison Phipps and Melis Cin

Pete Morey, Live Illustration.


Cross-cutting theme: Innovation

Innovation / challenging accepted orthodoxy: how are projects aiming to change or challenge established ideas? What aspects of challenging orthodoxy are more successful than others, and why? Can you “plan” for research innovation and how does methodology choice impact this? Is innovation “inevitable” when working in unpredictable and insecure contexts and with arts-based methods? Is something always innovative for both researcher and their in-country communities? If there is disparity here, is this an important learning for beneficiary considerations?

Chairs: Emma Crewe, Evelyn Pauls and Ananda Breed

Pete Morey, Live Illustration.

Special event: Field research in the time of Covid-19

Dr Margaret Ebubedike has over 13 years research, teaching and international development project delivery experience in the UK and across Sub Saharan Africa. Her research currently draws on the use of creative approaches to explore the educational needs across all levels in low-income contexts, including in protracted crises. As part of the COVID response, she is Co-I on a research project in partnership with the African Council for Distance Education (ACDE) to support African university teachers with the tools and pedagogy they need to move their teaching online.

Dr Heather Flowe. Heather's research is centered on understanding episodic memory, particularly memory for criminal events, using both experimental and applied approaches. Heather is the Co-Director of the Centre for Crime Justice and Policing (Victims and Trauma), the Lead for Violence Prevention and Humanitarian Protection for the Institute for Global Innovation 21st Century Crime theme and a chartered psychologist.

A brief on the COVID-19 Roundtable discussion is available to read and download here.

Pete Morey, Live Illustration.


Cross-cutting theme: Intervention/ Development

Moving from "intervention / action" to development: how are projects working on embedding change in sustainable ways? How do projects articulate this challenge of moving from intervention to sustained impact? What does sustained development or impact look like?

Chairs: Jane Plastow and Laura Hammond

Pete Morey, Live Illustration.


Cross-cutting theme: The Arts as Method

The arts as method is subversive, co-productive, unpredictable. What kinds of methodologies are in play – are some more successful than others? Are these methods articulated in a pragmatic and replicable way? Are arts methods replicable? What kinds of critique can projects offer on arts as method, and how can these challenges be countered?

Chairs: Alison Phipps and Jelke Boesten

Pete Morey, Live Illustration.


Cross-cutting theme: Self-Reflexivity

Where does the spectrum of benefits reach? How do researchers reflect on issues of privilege, ownership of product, dissemination and use of product, post-research community engagement, co-production of knowledge? How are researchers acknowledging benefits to home institutions and personal career paths, and is this important to do for grant purposes? How are researchers doing reflexive work in the field – and could we learn from this for future work?

Chairs: Neelam Raina and Stephen Stenning

Pete Morey, Live Illustration.


Cross-cutting theme: Unintended Consequences

Unintended consequences and the opportunities and challenges these present: arts as method and working in insecure contexts provides opportunity for reflexive, creative and innovative responses to research challenges; this can influence the outcomes and impacts of projects. Can we reflect on how these opportunities and challenges (of both country context and methodological approach) have contributed to the growth, development or reduction of outcomes and impacts? What can be learnt from this?

Chairs: Neelam Raina and Kelsey Shanks

Pete Morey, Live Illustration.


Cultural Programme (Transforming Conflict and Displacement through A&H)

In parallel with the workshop programme, PRAXIS will be hosting a virtual space where delegates will be able to review and engage with the creative artefacts generated by 20 projects that use the arts as a key research method. Click the links below to explore our film programme running 16-27 November and our virtual art exhibition.