Fifth EqUIP Symposium: Power Structures, Conflict Resolution and Social Justice

The fifth EqUIP symposium on ‘Power Structures, Conflict Resolution and Social Justice’, took place at The Gateway Resort in Sohna, Haryana, India, on 13-14 October 2016. The symposium was hosted by the Research Council of Norway and convened by Peace Research Institute Oslo, and had as overarching objective to identify mutual resonance and new areas of potential collaboration between European and Indian research institutions, and researchers of India and Europe. This was based on the idea that Indo-European research collaboration should involve cross­-cultural communication and facilitate in-­depth collaborative studies of localized understandings. Research collaboration between India and Europe should also include a multiplicity of perspectives, drawing on both the Social Sciences and Humanities.

Symposium Reflection Paper summarizing the findings and results of this discussion is now available.

The symposium had a total of fifty registered participants, representing 39 different organisations from all over India and Europe, of which 46% were from India, and 44% were women. Among the six keynote speakers who presented at the symposium, there was an equal share of speakers from India and Europe, and an equal number of women and men.

Nils Ragnar Kamsvåg, the Norwegian ambassador to India held the inaugural speech. He underlined the importance of the EqUIP platform: “As a relatively small country, we are very pleased to be able to explore social sciences in the multilateral platform which Equip offers. This gives us both a number of research connections, but also more critical mass to ensure a variety of approaches and high quality. The social sciences and historical-philosophical research must be part and parcel of that drive to strengthen academic contact and together find answers and solutions to the larger challenges our societies face.”

raj_8115The symposium used tools and methods designed to collect information and ideas on:

  • challenges and obstacles to collaborative research between Europe and India,
  • emerging and new research opportunities within the topics of this symposium, and
  • priority research areas of mutual interest for collaborative SSH initiatives between India and Europe.

The symposium also sought to encourage scholars to rethink how academic research can contribute to peace and social justice.

The symposium was organized around the three topics:

  1. Social Justice, Power and Identity
  2. Gender and Conflict
  3. Peace and Conflict Resolution

The symposium utilize inter-active formats designed to encourage a bottom­up agenda­setting process. On Day One, three topical sessions were each introduced by two 15-minute keynote presentations given by selected participants, of which one was from Europe and the other from India. The keynotes set the stage for World Café discussions on each topic.

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At the end, participants were asked to write up (on a post-it note) their thoughts on key challenges and opportunities for research within the topic under discussion. The compilation of notes was subsequently transcribed and collated by the convener into a document of World Café Proceedings.

Day Two started with a presentation of the results of the topical discussions (World Café Proceedings) by the convener. This was followed by two crosscutting Open Space sessions. In the first Open Space session, participants were invited to discuss and write down (on a post­it note) one key priority for research collaboration. Drawing on the most concisely formulated notes, the convener identified nine key priorities. In the second Open Space session, participants were invited back into the conference hall to study the formulations on the poster boards.

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In the final phase of the last Open Space session, participants voted for five research priorities among ten candidate formulations. Using these methods, the symposium participants identified five key research priorities for future Indo-European SSH research collaboration within the topics of this symposium:

  1. Reinventing the Community: Politics and Belonging in India and Europe
  2. Rethinking Statehood, Citizenship and the Social Contract in India and Europe
  3. Social Justice, New Movements and Political Alternatives
  4. Global Challenges and Local Scenarios: Contesting the “Traditional”
  5. Gender Intersectionality: The Changing Nature of Gender Relations in India and Europe

Another five proposals were also formulated in the symposium, but received less support than the five priority areas listed above:

  1. Understanding Youth Radicalization in Europe and India
  2. Power and Democracy: Knowledge Production, the University and the Public Sphere
  3. Democratic Politics, Development Agendas and the Political Economy of Peace
  4. Pluralities of Peace: Peace Discourses in India and Europe
  5. The Role of Cultural Resistance in Transnational Networks

A full report from the symposium will soon be made available on the EqUIP website.

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