Noyam African Dance Institute Performs at Birmingham Festival 2022

Noyam African Dance Institute Performs at Birmingham Festival 2022

By Nii-Tete Yartey & Esther Adobea Akuamoah

In 2021, the Noyam African Dance Institute teamed up with ME Dance Company and Conception Dance Africa from UK and Grenada respectively with support from the British Council.

The collaboration leveraged available technology to produce Oceans of Independence, an experimental dance piece that was performed simultaneously with three different countries across three different time zones in the COVID-19 era.

After a successful experiment last year, Noyam African Dance Institute (Ghana),  ME Dance Professional Company, ME Dance Youth and Graduate Company, and Conception Dance Theatre (Grenada) have been joined this year by Eloquent Praise Dance Company, Kidderminster College, amongst others at the Birmingham 2022 Festival in the United Kingdom.

The festival, which forms as part of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games which closed yesterday in Birmingham, will be presenting Chain Stories; an exciting site-specific performance telling the story of those who came to contact with the chains made in the Black Country, and how that links the region to Commonwealth Countries.

Reflecting over the weeks of intensive rehearsal at the Newhampton Arts Centre, the director of the Noyam African Dance institute, Nii-Tete Yartey stated that

“It is sad to think that years ago people were captured from their homes, put in chains, and sent across the ocean against their will. However, we are happy to be able to use dance and music to tell the stories of real-life people who fought for equality as well as the struggles and pain of those who were affected.

For Noyam African Dance Institute, the journey from West Africa, Ghana to the United Kingdom to perform at the Birmingham Festival 2022 presents an opportunity to project not only Ghana’s traditional dances, but also importantly, its vibrant and calculative contemporary dance form.”

This event is sponsored by the British Council, Arts Council England, Canal & River Trust, and Black Country Touring. The project is also hosted by ME Dance UK, and directed and choreographed by Marica Edwards (UK), Nii-Tete Yartey (Ghana) and Cecilia Griffith (Grenada).

Background of Chain Stories

Chain Stories is, at its core about diversity and the current and historic fight of equality. It is focused on the Black Country and the fight for equal rights for women, whilst looking across the ocean to slavery in Ghana and Grenada, the Windrush Generation and the continued fight for racial equality in the UK.

In order to make sure that ME is doing this justice, the team is working with artists from across the diaspora, and are drawing on the experiences of Marcia’s family who originally came to the UK as a part of the Windrush Generation.

By working with people from different ethnicities, cultures and backgrounds professionally and within the community, ME Dance hopes to bridge the gap between cultures and help people to understand their identities.

The stories that will be told in the pop ups and large-scale performances are based on real people, and their struggles, embodying them and bringing them to life for the current generation to experience, inspiring them to find their voice to fight continuing social injustice in small and large ways.

The Culture for Sustainable and Inclusive Peace (CUSP) is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the UK Governments Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

Discursive construction of “feminicide” in Mexico

Discursive construction of “feminicide” in Mexico

By Bernice González

Translated by Aline Aceituno

The term “feminicide” commonly refers to the gender-specific killing of women. Diana Russell and Jill Radford define “feminicide” as: ‘the set of acts and violent behaviours against women because they are women, which sometimes lead to murder’ (Diana Russell and Jill Radford cited in Lagarde (2006a: 2020)). This definition was further articulated in Mexico by the anthropologist Marcela Lagarde, so it would not be confused or lost in translation from English to Spanish as feminicide or female homicide; in other words, it would not only be considered a feminisation of the concept of homicide – the killing of a person by another person or group of people.

For this reason, understanding meaning and context is essential to articulate feminicide as a gendered crime and, at the same time, root it out from our communities. This is because ‘Feminicide is the culmination of violence against women… violence and impunity are added to the homicides’ (Lagarde, 2005: 151). Thus, articulating feminicide as a gendered crime appeals to a violent social structure in which impunity against women is not only perpetuated but also normalised. In the context of Mexico, feminicide as a concept has acquired a theoretical quality with a political sense, as Lagarde points out (2006a):

This is mostly a type of violence inflicted by men on women, not only by men, but by men placed in social, sexual, judicial, economic, political, ideological and other kind of supremacy, on women in conditions of inequality, subordination, exploitation or oppression, and with the particularity of exclusion (221)

It is extremely important to recognize this last dimension of the concept of feminicide, as it allows us to understand that feminicide is not only a fatal encounter between individuals – that is, between a perpetrator and a victim – but also the state/government because they have a responsibility; for instance, state failures are revealed in the number of cases that go unpunished, lack of accurate recording of feminicides, and neglect of the root causes.  “Las muertas de Juárez” (“The dead women of Ciudad Juárez”), the incessant death of women that occurred for 11 years (1993-2004) in Ciudad Juárez in the state of Chihuahua in Mexico and was perpetrated with excessive use of cruelty, with evidence of mass rape and torture on victims with similar physical and social characteristics, is a typical example of state failure.

The anthropologist Rita Segato identified that these cases were characterized by impunity in a) the absence of convincing defendants to public opinion; b) the absence of consistent lines of enquiry; and c) their consequences. The shameless and endless cycle of repetition of these types of crimes continues to target women across Mexico. Those impacted by the heinous crime are mainly women and girls from disadvantaged backgrounds including women living in poverty in situations of unequal rights and subordination. In fact, such murders are often committed by relatives, partners or people close to the victims and these murders are committed with extreme levels of cruelty including torture, rape, asphyxiation, dismemberment or/and burning of the bodies.

Therefore, feminicide continues to be perpetuated both in private and public spaces and places. In the end, feminicide is a misogynous crime fuelled by hatred, contempt, pleasure or an inhuman bondage of ownership. And such violent attitudes and practices are not only tolerated but also enabled by the patriarchal state.


Olamendi, P. (2017). Feminicidio en México

Lagarde, M. (2005). El feminicidio, delito contra la humanidad. En: Feminicidio, Justicia y Derecho. México: Comisión Especial para Conocer y dar Seguimiento a las Investigaciones Relacionadas con los Feminicidios en la República Mexicana.

Lagarde, M. (2006a). Del femicidio al feminicidio. Desde el jardín de Freud: revista de psicoanálisis, ISSN 1657-3986, Nº. 6, 2006, pags. 216-225.

Lagarde, M. (2006b). Prefacio. En: Rusell, D. y Radford, J. Feminicidio. La política del asesinato de las mujeres. México: Ceiich/Unam.

Segato, L.R. (2013). La escritura en el cuerpo de las mujeres asesinadas en Ciudad Juárez. – 1a. ed. – Buenos Aires: Tinta Limón, 88p

The Culture for Sustainable and Inclusive Peace (CUSP) is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the UK Governments Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

"We want us alive"

“We want us alive”

By Carolina Buenrostro & Bernice González

Translated by Aline Aceituno

Photograph of Frida Ali, taken from social media. March in Cuernavaca, Morelos. March 8th 2021

March the 8th is without a doubt a very important day for women all around the world, because it recognizes the struggles that women in different parts of the world have faced to overcome the inequalities they endure on a daily basis. Despite improvements for some, there are still millions of women who continue to suffer from gender discrimination, inequity, poverty and violence.

In Mexico, violence related to organized crime and drugs has made structurally vulnerable groups such as women and girls even more likely to suffer from different types of violence. We should mention that since the Covid-19 pandemic complaints about violence against women and girls, as well as feminicides[1] have increased in Mexico. During the first wave alone, between January and March 2020, 964 women were murdered, which represents an increase of 8.3% compared to the same period in 2019. [2]

Photo taken by Alma Berenice González Marín, taken march the 8th 2022 in the march organized by "Red de Colectivas" in the state of Morelos, México The poster says "they sowed fear in us, we grew wings."

In the last years, and as a way of responding to this violence, Mexico has seen the emergence of several groups of women called “Colectivas”, mainly consisting of young women, who have undertaken various actions to raise awareness in regards to gender-based violence, feminicides and human trafficking among other issues that affect women and girls. These “Colectivas” use different slogans such as: “We want us alive”, “Not one less”, “I believe you”, “We exist because we resist” to mention a few. These actions do not occur only on March the 8th, however on this specific day of the year the streets of Mexico are taken by women’s “Colectivas” to raise awareness about the gender-based violence they endure every day and, most importantly, to demand rights and justice.

For feminists groups purple stands for the historical gender struggle for equality and social justice. Green stands for the fight for women´s sexual and reproductive rights. Pink crosses represent women murdered by gender violence.

As this photo reveals, the women and girls express themselves in unique ways; for example, they use   purple and/or green tags and graffities on streets and public areas, wear pink crosses or green scarves while taking the streets in protest [3]. in addition to manifesting and taking over public spaces, the “Colectivas” also present in institutional and virtual spaces through artistic workshops, conferences, and several other awareness raising activities that are also aimed at providing women and girls with tools to help them reduce and eradicate, and face daily acts of violence in their lives and towns.


[1] Feminicides in Mexico’s specific context are recognized as the extreme action of a continuum of gender violence, which entails the murder of women by cruel means (mostly perpetrated by males) due to their historical condition of exclusion (sexual, legal, economic, political). Ultimately these are misogynist crimes, because they are motivated by hate, contempt, pleasure o or a sense of ownership. Attitudes that are tolerated and reinforced by a patriarchal government

[2]  El Universal, Violence against women and girls in times of COVID 19, Retrieved from

[3] For feminist groups purple stands for the historical gender struggle for equality and social justice. Green stands for the fight for women´s sexual and reproductive rights. Pink crosses represent women murdered by gender violence.

The Culture for Sustainable and Inclusive Peace (CUSP) is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the UK Governments Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

"Were tha born in a barn?"

"Were tha born in a barn?"

By Alison Phipps

I was born and grew up in South Yorkshire. A county of dialects and proverbs and poverty. The City I am from – Sheffield – declared itself – like Aotearoa New Zealand – to be a Nuclear Free Zone. We had our own folk traditions, popularised by the singer Kate Rusby in Christmas Carols, of singing at Christmas in the streets in local pubs, local radio stations, into care homes, and community centres – taking cheer and traditional Yorkshire carols into places of hospitality and care.

It was always cold when we sang. I remember layers of scarves protecting my voice and bobble hats and knitted jumpers and stamping my feet on frosty pavements, and collecting coins door to door, and being given mince pies. It was mostly work done by women, the peace making, the caring and community centres, the serving of ale behind the bars, the plating up of mince pies, and it was mum who made sure I wrapped up warm. And mum waiting with a hot water bottle and hot juice when I came back in.

The phrase ‘Were tha born in a barn?’ in Yorkshire dialect accompanied my childhood. I’d often leave doors open as I went in and out and around the house. The family were trying to save on fuel costs so when I did leave the door open freezing cold air would blast through the home. The same with the care homes and community centres and pubs as we all traipsed through intent on singing and forgetting etiquette of door closing to protect one another from the cold.

The question ‘Were tha born in a barn?’ was like a refrain, a constant, non-too-polite reminder, almost a greeting. It brought laughter and action whenever we heard it. Because, no, I wasn’t born in a barn. My next door neighbour delivered me into this world, my Auntie Madge, as I knew her. It was too icy for mum to get to hospital that cold November day or for the midwife to reach our home safely. But when I forgot what has since become an ingrained habit, and left the door open, I was opening us all up to elements that would render us more vulnerable, and also bring conflict in with them.

Peace-making in CUSP is focused on the work of women and on the work of transforming conflicts or potential sources of conflict. Our work with meso-level cultural institutions like theatre groups, reading groups, libraries, cafés, dance companies is work with communities, at grassroots, so close to the drafts – if we think about that metaphor of grassroots more literally. It’s work where the cold air of the temperate zones needs to be kept at bay for the sake of the well-being of all. The scene I describe with Carol Singing around Sheffield is one where much of the cultural labour – dressing up warm, feeding and watering, and visiting – is embedded into cultural routines. This, for me, though, is where the real work of peace maintenance, of conflict prevention takes place.

‘Were tha born in a barn?’ Is a reminder, in earthy humour, of the need to conserve, preserve the peace and warmth of places where life happens. It’s culturally contextual of course. In hot countries doors are happily left open to allow cooler air to circulate, there might not even be doors. Peace making and maintaining peace, is gendered and temperature dependent too. But what I love about the humour in the phrase, the intonation moving towards laughter in the questioning accusation is that humour is what is being used to take away the sting. The Pyscho-therapist Beverley Costa of Pasalo Project says “we aren’t going to change anything without humour” and I am struck as I read the impassioned, intent, advocating work against gender based violence and femicide, against discrimination and the gender pay gap how vital that element of humour is to gentleness despite it all, to being still within a structure that is strong but which can elicit a change of behaviour.

So International Women’s Day 2022 comes around I’m celebrating the earthy humour, the small acts of maintaining the peace and the way this work, world wide, is largely undertaken by women…. The scarves, the food, the opening and closing of doors.

The Culture for Sustainable and Inclusive Peace (CUSP) is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the UK Governments Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

The parallel fight - Echoes of resistance

The parallel fight - Echoes of resistance

By Rajaa Essaghyry 

In Morocco, there is a common popular expression “Lmra Hachak” that can be translated to “woman, with all due respect”. My first reflex was to look at the definitions of the expression “with all due respect” that are suggested by Google. The first one I found is: “If someone prefaces a sentence by saying “with all due respect”, it’s a sign that they are likely to unleash something negative or critical, and sometimes quite vulgar and highly disrespectful[1]. You would probably tell me: Why do we even have to add this sentence after pronouncing the word “woman”?”. Technically, according to some kind of archaic traditions, being a woman is an “insult” or an “aberration”, thus requiring adding this expression so as not to “offend” anyone. It seems that some people in our culture consider that quoting the word woman in an assembly or simply in a conversation would be “vulgar” or disrespectful.

This expression is among many others which reflect the retrograde vision reserved for women in patriarchal societies, notably in Morocco; A series of violent expressions, which are still used today. This is why we are observing the everyday language, in order to identify and re-appropriate certain terms, to finally eradicate several expressions which undermine the dignity of women.

Photo Credit: Dimitris Vetsikas, Pixabay

In the CUSP N+ project (Culture for Inclusive and Sustainable Peace Network Plus), Racines’s team chose to work on the issue of insidious violence against women. We consider that public and private spaces are zones of conflict for women and girls. Nowadays, and more than ever, pointing out the insidious violence against women in Morocco is becoming an absolute necessity. Our work consists in deconstructing the heteronormative discourse, along with the socio-political constructs of femininity and masculinity. We want to expose the different strategies used by patriarchal societies to not only prepare young girls to be dominated, but also to normalize and legitimize gender-based violence. It is simply a matter of exhibiting all the mechanisms put in place in order to hinder women’s emancipation.

Through the CUSP project we are trying to demonstrate that one of the main solutions to have social stability in a country is through guaranteeing equal opportunities and democracy, built by emancipated citizens who are capable of claiming their rights. This cannot be achieved as long as half of the society (women) are deprived of their rights and treated as second class citizens, through discriminatory laws and archaic traditions.

Through a research-action approach, we collected several life stories and testimonies from Moroccan women. Each story denounced different types of insidious violence suffered by women. Each story showed the actions taken by women to overthrow the patriarchal system and its foundations. Each story illustrated women’s resistance and resilience in the face of violence.

Muriel Rukeyser once said: “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.”. Speaking out, testifying and sharing with the world are in themselves actions of resistance. Freeing the voices is a fundamental step to fight against silence, alienation and violence. Deconstructing the patriarchal system consists in constructing its puzzle, concept by concept, violence by violence, testimony by testimony… don’t we say that knowing your enemy is the key to better fight it? In this case, our common enemy is patriarchy.

By working in the most remote regions of Morocco, we immediately realized that feminism, as opposed to the common beliefs, is not an invention of the West. This latter is perceived to generate subversion.
The feminist fight is happening inside every Moroccan home, every workplace, in public spaces, on social media, … It is everywhere and it is local.

Women are resisting the status quo and historical roles set up by the patriarchy. Their fight can be anarchist, radical, soft, insidious, violent or peaceful. But their fight is omnipresent, and it would simply be a delusion to ignore it. Recognizing this reality is in itself a celebration of women and their fight. Women are rising up and celebrating their daily small victories and battles against the patriarchy.

I would like to end this text with a quote from the American feminist Gloria Steinem that I find very relevant and sums up very well what we should do, each on our own, to further advance the cause and end once and for all with patriarchy: “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.”[2]


[1] Definition suggested by Google of the expression “with all due respect”, (consulted on March 01, 2022)

[2] Quote of the American feminist Gloria Steinem (consulted on March 01, 2022).

The Culture for Sustainable and Inclusive Peace (CUSP) is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the UK Governments Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

Abolishing War is Needed

Abolishing War is Needed



‘We must start talking, imagining, designing a world without war’

On 13 August 2021, Italian surgeon Gino Strada, founder of Emergency,  died at the age of 73.  

A surgeon is how  he defined himself when he received the Right Livelihood Award in 2015; a pacifist, or more precisely as he said himself ‘I am not a pacifist, I am against war!’; an activist who spent his life  curing and treating people in war zones; a thinker, who once wrote that wars do not only destroy infrastructure but destroy human relations; a father, a husband. Gino Strada was a model of humility and perseverance that shaped humanitarian health and a culture of peace since the foundation of Emergency in 1994.  

We remember him at several protests and seeing him during a demonstration in 2004 against the war in Iraq, passing by, greeting people with his Emergency T-shirt and white strip of fabric around his harm, symbolising peace. We used to have one on our backpacks, and stickers with the unmistakable red logo of Emergency. Gino’s work and thoughts have inspired generations of people in Italy and abroad; we were among those.   

His last article appeared in an Italian newspaper on 13 August, the day he passed away, commenting on the dramatic events in Afghanistan. Gino Strada spent over 7 years living in Afghanistan, and since 2001 had been campaigning against the war. He wrote in his latest piece: 

Dicevamo 20 anni fa che questa guerra sarebbe stata un disastro per tutti. Oggi l’esito di quell’aggressione è sotto i nostri occhi: un fallimento da ogni punto di vista. Oltre alle 241 mila vittime e ai 5 milioni di sfollati, tra interni e richiedenti asilo, l’Afghanistan oggi è un Paese che sta per precipitare di nuovo in una guerra civile, i talebani sono più forti di prima, le truppe internazionali sono state sconfitte e la loro presenza e autorevolezza nell’area è ancora più debole che nel 2001. E soprattutto è un Paese distrutto, da cui chi può cerca di scappare anche se sa che dovrà patire l’inferno per arrivare in Europa. E proprio in questi giorni alcuni Paesi europei contestano la decisione della Commissione europea di mettere uno stop ai rimpatri dei profughi afgani in un Paese in fiamme.

20 years ago we said that this war would have been a catastrophe for all. Today, the outcomes of that aggression is under everyone’s eyes: a failure, from all points of view. In addition to its 241,000 victims, and 5 million displaced people, internally-displaced and asylum seekers, Afghanistan is today a country on the verge of another civil war, the Taliban are stronger than they used to be, international troops have been defeated and their presence and authority in the area is weaker than in 2001. And above all, it is a country which is destroyed, where those who can, try to escape even though they know that they will go through hell in the attempt to reach Europe. And precisely in the last few days, some European countries have contested the European Commission’s decision to halt deportations of Afghani asylum seekers to their country, which is in flames.

[our translation]

Moni Ovadia recalls a memory of Gino Strada, when once, after one of the numerous heart failures he had, he was planning to go back to Afghanistan, and Ovadia tried to call him and dissuade him from going. Gino’s answer was: ‘I miei malati mi aspettano’ ‘My wounded people are waiting for me’; Ovadia commented that Gino was indeed a personification of the essence of the Oath of Hippocrates. Gino’s life was led by valuing the ‘Other’, whoever the Other was.  

I suoi malati, his wounded ones, the ‘real heroes’ as he used to call them, were at the heart of what he did over the years, and Gino once said, ‘treating the wounded is neither generous, nor merciful, it is only just. It has to be done’ because we need justice if we want to achieve peace. And we don’t help people because we are good people, but just because it is just.  

During the pandemic, Gino, with Emergency, in addition to putting their knowledge and experience of dealing with pandemics in crisis and emergencies, described how ideal – not utopistic, but feasible – healthcare should be. He referred to the Italian healthcare, but we believe his words would resonate in many other countries: 

universal (it cannot discriminate, it doesn’t look at citizenship rights because it has to be available for everyone; and importantly, healthcare should not be for profit, pointing at the importance of relocating resources that in recent years have been allocated to private profit) 

of high quality in all national territories, and independent (not dependent on religious powers and churches) 

welcoming and hospitable – healthcare is solidarity, all of the community should be a part of this, putting the interests of those who are ill first.  

A giant, with a very small ego. Probably that was what made him so unique, he was a man of the people, a man of the field. It is our duty to continue his legacy – whether we do it in war zones, or with our neighbours, at university or at nurseries, selling clothes, teaching languages, working with people, or with computers.  

Whatever we do in our lives, it is our duty to talk and imagine a world without war. Our children deserve this.  

Che la terra ti sia lieve, Gino.  


Watch his moving full speech to learn about war, health, peace, wounds, and broken hopes, and what we must do to conceive a world without war, starting with imagining and talking about it. 

*Andrea Cagli, Associazione Proletari Escursionisti, Italy 

** Diego Lombardi, University for Foreigners of Siena, Italy 

The Culture for Sustainable and Inclusive Peace (CUSP) is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the UK Governments Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

Peacebuilding and Books as Mirrors, Windows and Doors

Peacebuilding and Book as Mirrors, Windows as Doors


In the fourth episode of our CUSP Podcast series, Prof. Evelyn Arizpe, Dr Giovanna Fassetta and Dr Julie MacAdam joined Prof. Alison Phipps for a discussion on peacebuilding in relation to the work they do as educators, researchers, and members of their communities. 

In the contexts in which Evelyn, Giovanna and Julie have worked and are working, especially the Gaza Strip and Mexico, physical violence occurs on a daily basis. Gaza is a context of protracted conflict with an ongoing blockade and recurrent military aggressions; and in Mexico, gender-based violence is acute, in particular the incidence of feminicidio (Castañeda Selgado, 2016). Evelyn, Giovanna, and Julie work in the School of Education (University of Glasgow) and they use different creative methods in their research, with a particular interest in books and literature to build peace in these contexts. 

What do books and literature have to do with peacebuilding?  

The phrase ‘Mirrors, Windows and Sliding Glass Doors’ was coined by Sims Bishop (1990) to describe how children see themselves in books, and why it is important that they can find themselves represented in books and that they can relate to others’ experiences. Literature may not be the solution to a protracted conflict, but it may change our attitudes towards how we perceive difference, building empathy and community (Bishop, 1990).  

Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created and recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.  

(Bishop, 1990) 

(Thanks Julie, for sharing the powerful work of Sims Bishop during the podcast episode!). 

Building a culture(s) for inclusive and sustainable peace, at the community level, perhaps means to focus on the acts of everyday solidarity and care, small acts but constant and multiple. As Evelyn and Giovanna also mentioned during the podcast – these acts increase non-violent options to conflict. That is, as Evelyn highlighted, we are often exposed to media narratives that ‘take us to more violent solutions’ but perhaps we can choose which door to close and which door to open – and offer different doors to walk through.  

Peacebuilding is multifaceted, there is not only single way to undertake the journey.  

In this podcast, Julie, Evelyn and Giovanna talked about multiliteracies, multilingualism, multimodality, a multiplicity of perspectives, multiculturality – multiple sources can spark our imagination. With our work we try to understand what these multiple sources in local contexts are. Peacebuilding is therefore contextualised, shaped relationally, and built step-by-step and day-by-day, not only with our neighbours and immediate community, but with a wider community of people.   

 As educators, we can promote inclusivity and peace, perhaps starting with the classroom context and then going beyond it, in a perspective that highlights plentifulness and positive relations.  


Bishop S. 1990. Mirrors, Windows and Sliding Glass Doors  

Castañeda Selgado M.P. 2016. Feminicide in Mexico: an approach through academic, activist and artistic work. Current Sociology. 64(7): 1054-1070. 


Additional Resources on Books 

2021 Ibby Selection of Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities. 


The Culture for Sustainable and Inclusive Peace (CUSP) is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the UK Governments Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

Conflict Transformation or Conflict Resolution?

Conflict Transformation or Conflict Resolution? 


Rather than seeing peace as a static “end-state,” conflict transformation views peace as a continuously evolving and developing quality of relationship.  
(Lederach, 2003: para 22)

In CUSP we frame our work within ‘conflict transformation’, inspired by the work of Jean Paul Lederach. Lederach the father of conflict transformation, was one of the first scholar-practitioners that started to use and conceptualise conflict transformation as opposed to conflict resolution.  

In the early 1990s, conflict transformation as an idea was not that common among peace studies and theorists. There was rather a focus on conflict resolution and conflict management. In his earlier work, Jean Paul Lederach (1995) explained that, ‘perhaps unintentionally, [resolution] carries the connotation of a bias toward ‘ending’ a given crisis or at least its outward expression, without being sufficiently concerned with the deeper structural, cultural and long-term relational aspect of conflict’ (Lederach, 1995: 201).  That is, conflict resolution may be more short-term, outcome-oriented, while conflict transformation is process-oriented and hence may take much longer. Conflict resolution is concerned with immediate problem-solving activities while conflict transformation looks at identity building and national reconciliation.  

Diamond (1994) argues that sustainable peace needs conflict transformation and conflict resolution, and those activities move on a spectrum, on a fluid continuum. For example, Notter and Diamond (1996) explain that conflict transformation has to do with systems, and systems cannot ‘be resolved’ but we can perhaps try to transform what we cannot completely fix. These ideas are at the basis of conflict transformation which may also be intertwined with conflict resolution. 

Other theorists perceive conflict transformation as totally different from conflict resolution. For example, conflict is considered a ‘motor of change’ and not just something that needs to be fixed (Lederach, 2003). 

In a nutshell, in his Little Book of Conflict Transformation (2003) Lederach explains these main points:  

  • We need to accept that conflict is normal, it exists in our lives, and we cannot get rid of it.  
  • Conflict can be a motor of change. This is quite shocking as usually, we want to resolve conflict as quickly as possible. However, conflict transformation work recognises that conflict can be an opportunity.  
  • We can build something new out of conflict. We don’t just need to negotiate and find solutions, but we can create new ways of interacting and imagining. How does a future without conflict look? How do we get there? Lederach says that we can try to keep our eyes on the horizon, we cannot reach the horizon, but it is what can stimulate us to move forward.
  • Solving the immediate conflict might be necessary, but we need to get to the roots of conflict. We can continue digging deeper so to walk towards the future without conflict and to try to understand the roots of someone’s perceptions.  
  • Conflict must be out in the open. At times we might need to escalate conflict before starting to work within that. That can be challenging, and it requires open and honest conversations. The process is not linear, we might represent it as a spiral as you might move forward but you may also be pulled back – in constant movement.

In order to transform conflict, change needs to happen at several levels:  

  • Personal, to fully develop individuals’ potential and wellbeing.  
  • Relational, as we can’t transform conflict on our own. Relations to our and others’ emotions are also important and need to be foregrounded.
  • Structural, to understand root causes.
  • Cultural, to identify cultural patterns and build upon those within contextual and cultural settings. 

These bullet points are a very simplified version of Lederach’s (2003) work, but we have used them in our work within CUSP. For a more exhaustive account of conflict transformation, we invite you to consult Jean Paul Lederach’s books. 


Diamond, L. 1994. “On Developing a Common Vocabulary: The Conflict Continuum.” Peace Builder, Vol.1, No. 4, Spring, p. 3. 

Lederach J.P. 2003. The little book of conflict transformation. Good Books 

Lederach, J.P. 1995. “Conflict Transformation in Protracted Internal Conflicts: The Case for a Comprehensive Network.” In Kumar Rupesinghe, ed., Conflict Transformation. New York: St. Martin’s Press.  

Notter, J. & Diamond L. 1996. Building Peace and Transforming Conflict: Multi-Track Diplomacy in Practice. The Institute for Multi-Track diplomacy: Occasional Paper Number 7. 

The Culture for Sustainable and Inclusive Peace (CUSP) is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the UK Governments Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

3. Feelinguistic deficiency’ of trauma dramatic monologue of a linguist in occupied Palestine: To be Free


In this latest blog for Cultures of Sustainable and Inclusive Peace our Co-I Nazmi Al Masri attempts to find words for the horror he and his family and colleagues are experiencing through 11 days of bombardment by the Israeli Government on the Gaza Strip. At a time when preparations had been made to celebrate Eid, to be with family and friends in peaceful congregation, he finds himself at a loss for words, or more accurately, needing to use his full powers as an Applied Linguist to create new words for the fact that he has lost his ability to express his feelings about the reality unfolding around him. There is no peace in the language Nazmi is using here. It is the language of trauma, a poetic expression using academic resources of an applied linguist both up against the limits of speech but at the same time articulating in new ways what trauma, fear, anger, injustice produce in someone used to being able to find words in English and in Arabic for the experiences of peace, and for the experiences of inclusion. Nazmi’s words are staccato, like the bombs; they shatter; like the bones; they bleed; like the bodies; they make use of ellipsis and neologisms as part of articulating the loss, and the radical unwanted change that such loss visits upon the human community.

Feelinguisitc Deficiency is both a descriptor and also an injunction to those of us who enjoy peace, or who experience this war in different, bureaucratised forms, to feel our own linguistic deficiencies and inadequacies in expressing the full horror at the violence being done to a people, over decades, in Palestine.  

*This blogpost was written on the 22nd of May, during the attacks on Gaza.

Feelinguistic deficiency’ of trauma dramatic monologue of a linguist in occupied Palestine: To be Free


“Sorry, although I’m an applied linguist with an education and psychology background, I can’t do anything, I can’t do nothing, I can’t identify or specify my current feelings, I can’t describe my feelings for these 11 days. I feel that I may have caught a Feelinguistic Deficiency.”, I said to myself and to many of my local and international colleagues and friends who asked me, “How are you, hope you and family are safe” via email, WhatsApp, messenger, or other social media used to express solidarity and support the peace of mind of Palestinians living under occupation, besieged and exposed to Israeli attacks in Gaza, Palestine for 11 days.

I can hear my partners in Scotland exclaim: ‘Feelinguistic Deficiency’?! Astonished by hearing this term, Feelinguistic Deficiency, for the first time and knowing, my, Nazmi’s resilience and ability to create new context-based words like “Palestinise, projectise”,

I notice a big smile: “Feelinguistic Deficiency, what is this Nazmi? What do you mean?

Honestly and frankly, I could not give a specific explanation to this question but I started thinking about it and I am trying my best to give more explanation of what this term may mean.

To feel positive or to feel negative isn’t a question

To feel a mixture of feelings isn’t a question

What exactly a Palestinian feels under day and night airstrikes, from artillery and sea and the international community watching the killing and destruction of an illegitimately besieged Gaza for decades. It’s not easy to describe these feelings.

Though I endured 3 destructive Israeli wars on Gaza in less than 7 years (2008-9, 2012, 2014), I feel the current ongoing aggression (Monday 10 – Thursday 20 May, 2021) – on besieged Gaza (December 2008 – May 2021) is different and more difficult for logical and practical reasons. I am unable to describe it well due to having ‘Feelinguistic deficiency’.  Maybe this is why it is different and difficult…

Credit: Alison Phipps

This fourth aggression by the Israeli government occupation forces on more than 2 million Palestinians (about 70% are refugees) living in an overpopulated, tiny Gaza happened after I survived 3-months of health problems, and then before my full recovery, my 100-year father (May Allah have mercy on him) passed away. He got Coronavirus and was hospitalised in the ICU for 17 days during which I was taking care of him all the time. He had been living with me and my family in our house for 27 years, since I had graduated from Manchester University and came back to Gaza in February 1994.

Living, chatting, visiting relatives, eating, performing worships Fasting Ramadan and Mondays and Thursdays performing prayers in the mosque, and performing Haj and Omra and doing this and that … created a special bond of close mutual love, gratitude, friendship, attachment and … and … To me he is not only my kind, wise, passionate and resilient and determined father but also my closest friend, best brother, most experienced consultant, most talented advisor, role model and a big story of success for all Palestinians and humans … and  … Maybe all these events and the dots (and …) could be some symptoms of having Feelinguistic Deficiency.

Similar symptoms may have started to appear when I could not receive sufficient support and comfort or express my flooding feelings of love and attachment to my father and to others in the context of lockdown. (Curfews, in the Palestinian context, are those imposed by the Israeli government, who cite security reasons, on Palestinians.)

Chatting with my family and staying in all the time watching and reading and discussing news and being asked several if questions (e.g. Dad! what might happen if . . .  ? What are we going to do if  . . . .? gave me opportunities to contemplate and reflect on this new phenomenon, ‘Feelinguistic deficiency’.  I started thinking and writing these related questions and thoughts using synonyms, antonyms, collocations in the context of aggressions and wars.

I started monologuing and sometimes soliloquising, if I were asked next time about my feeling, I would say

“I am ok so far but unsure what might happen in the next minute , or the next hour , or even worse this night, as with most Israeli airstrikes hit 100s of Palestinian houses after midnight to create more … and  …. and …. among Palestinian families and children – ‘Feelinguistic deficiency’’

Suddenly a heavy, loud bombardment killed my train of thoughts and I rushed to changing TV news channels, searching my mobile, and online news agencies on my laptop instantaneously to find which family was bombed in my hometown, Deir El-Balah, located in the middle of Gaza Strip. In less than 3 minutes, I got this heart-breaking news:

“An Israeli airstrike killed a wheelchaired father with a physical disability (Eyad Salha, 33), his pregnant wife (Amani, 33), and their 3-year old daughter (Nagham) in Deir El-Balah – ‘They were getting ready to eat lunch when a missile struck their home.’

My ‘Feelinguistic deficiency’’ jumped and dropped down to its lowest level to start again and again monologuing painfully, agonizingly, uproariously, distrustfully, disgustedly, angrily, distressfully, . .. .. … and ….. and  ….

To feel or not feel, that is the question.

To feel and to experience physical, emotional and . . . feelings is . . .

  1. What do I feel these days? Can I tell and describe my true feelings comprehensively?
  2. Am I naturally and increasingly worried and awfully and desperately anxious or am I completely, fairly calm and apparently, outwardly quiet?
  3. Am I genuinely terrified and terrorised mentally, psychologically and physically or am I a powerful fearless academic who is steady and has firm self-assurance?
  4. Am I badly, bitterly and deeply upset and profoundly, seriously and terribly angry or am I sadly and (mildly) or hugely disappointed or deeply and increasingly dissatisfied?
  5. Am I profoundly and unbearably sad and wretchedly and woefully unhappy or am I pretty and absolutely hopeless or rather helpless and feel the suffering of loneliness and being isolated and deserted by . . .?
  6. Am I very emotionally, mentally, psychologically, socially and personally stressed distressed and agonised?
  7. Am I mentally, physically and visibly tired having had 11 sleepless, terrorising nights or a high or low spirited Palestinian who needs to sleep more hours (if I can due to . . . and . . .) to have more pleasant dreams to be true?
  8. Am I less or more active, less or more productive and less or more creative these 11 days because . . . and . . .?
  9. What specific feelings do I have to express and describe to myself and to my warm-hearted, generous-spirited friends and colleagues who have kept in touch with Palestine in solidarity and support to safety, justice and peace?
      • Possibly some of these feelings or possibly all of them combined and mixed.
      • Possibly a mixture of some of these feelings and some other feelings I have never experienced, felt or known.
      • Possibly none of these feelings but some feeling called ‘Feelinguistic deficiency’’ that make me unable to exactly describe my own specific feelings in the context of non-stop war and aggression that make the state of mind confused, indescribable and traumatised, and . . . and . . . .
  1. Has this ‘Feelinguistic deficiency’’ been caused by flagrant routine and systematic violation of basic human rights of 14 million Palestinians day and night?
  2. Has this ‘Feelinguistic deficiency’’ been generated by the deaf ear and blind eye of the hypocrite ‘leaders of the free world” who never talk about the Palestinian dream of having a free Palestine: no occupation and no repression or oppression?

11 questions and 11 dreadful and aggressive days and night against Palestinian families that killed 66 children, 33 women, 17 elderly family members and other civilians in the name of the fallacy of ‘the right to self-defence’ but no rights are mentioned that would mean a free Palestine and an end to the occupation, root of all human right violations. How can we accept these double standards, supported by democratic states such as the US and Europe, in the face of clear United Nations injunctions and rulings?  I feel that this inequality in terms of whose human rights are protected and violated is also perpetuated with the complicity of superpowers and top media agencies and channels. These countries and media agencies may have another form of ‘Feelinguistic deficiency’ related to not feeling ashamed of moral bankruptcy and/or related to all of these: “justice promotion deficiency, ethical and moral deficiency or deficit,  moral disorder or  “inclusive and sustainable peace promotion deficiency ”

The Culture for Sustainable and Inclusive Peace (CUSP) is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the UK Governments Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

 Are we all vulnerable? Reflections on the term ‘vulnerability’

 Are we all vulnerable? Reflections on the term ‘vulnerability’


‘Vulnerability’ is a contested term. In our project, we work with youths, children, minorities, women, people who have escaped wars and conflicts; those are usually identified as ‘vulnerable groups’. However, overall, within our team we tend not to use this word much, perhaps because the idea of vulnerability is often associated with the stigma of victimhood and risk. 

Vulnerability’ comes from Latin, ‘vulnerare’, a verb that means ‘to hurt’, ‘to damage’, ‘to offend’, but also ‘to break a principle’. In late Latin it was used also as in ‘to break a law’. The adjective then followed, ‘vulnerabile’, as in English ‘vulnerable’. Vulnerability as an analytical concept emerged in environmental sciences (Wisner, 1993) in relation to the effect of natural or economic disasters on human beings (Virokannas et al, 2020). After that, it was rapidly used in other fields, e.g. in health, social care, and policy making (Virokannas et al, 2020). 

Interestingly, in a recent literature review which aimed to shed light on the conceptualisation of vulnerability, Virokannas and colleagues concluded that, after reviewing over 80 journal articles on the topic of vulnerability, that the term was used in a ‘self-evident manner, referring to certain people or groups’ (Virokannas et al, 2020: 335).  Many of the articles mentioned in the review, presented a critique of the term ‘vulnerable’: this could be stigmatising, it could deny the agency and voice of those perceived as vulnerable, and may lead to the responsibility of the state, to prevent vulnerability, being overlooked. However, there are other scholars, especially philosophers, who talk about a universal, human vulnerability. For example, Martha Fineman (2010) writes that human vulnerability ‘arises from our embodiment, which carries with it the imminent or ever-present possibility of harm, injury, and misfortune’ (p. 267).  Fineman argues that vulnerability is both universal and particular, and that the relationship between individuals and society and institutions should be unpacked as to understand the social processes that generated vulnerability and the responsibility that the state carries towards its citizens as to alleviate the causes and consequences of vulnerability. 

Martha Nussbaum also argues that vulnerability is a common trait of humanity: she calls for ‘a society of citizens who admit that they are needy and vulnerable, and who discard the grandiose demands for omnipotence and completeness that have been at the heart of so much human misery’ (Nussbaum, 2004:17). She acknowledges that all of us as human beings are more vulnerable at some point of our life, for example as a newborn, an elderly person, when we fall ill etc. However, she says, there is no harm in admitting we are ‘needy and vulnerable’, and this does not mean that we should not act to reduce the causes and consequences of vulnerability, nor that the state and its institutions are not to be held responsible about their citizens’ vulnerability. 

The debate on the term is fascinating, and many more things could be said. However, perhaps, for our purpose here, the main point would be that either you choose to use or not to use the word vulnerable, it is interesting to be aware of the whole debate and see whether there is space for common-ground and mutual understanding.  


Nussbaum, M. (2004) Hiding from Humanity: disgust, shame and the Law. Princeton: Princeton University Press 

Virokannas E., Liuski S, & Kuronen  M(2020) The contested concept of vulnerability – a literature review, European Journal of Social Work, 23:2, 327-339, DOI: 10.1080/13691457.2018.1508001  

Fineman, M. A. (2010). The vulnerable subject and the responsive state. Emory Law Journal, 60(2), 251–275. Emory Public Law Research Paper No. 10-130. Available at SSRN: = 1694740 

Wisner, B. (1993). Disaster vulnerability: Scale, power and daily life. GeoJournal, 30(2), 127–140. doi:10.1007/BF00808129  

The Culture for Sustainable and Inclusive Peace (CUSP) is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the UK Governments Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).