From terrorism to local insurgencies, conflict is endemic in today’s world. The clash between different religious, ethnic and civilisational norms is widely seen as particularly fateful. Dealing with the ensuing dilemmas is thus one of the most challenging tasks ahead. It requires drawing upon a diverse range of insights and practices. But often responses to these important dilemmas focus almost exclusively on Western approaches to security and conflict resolution. In many instances such approaches, particularly in the context of the “war on terror,” can work against cross-cultural and interdisciplinary cooperation among scholars, practitioners, and non-government actors.
To address this dilemma our project expands Western models of security and conflict resolution by drawing upon the rich and diverse insights emanating from Asia, Oceania and Indigenous Australia. Although often overlooked, these local traditions offer a range of potentially very useful ways of dealing with difference. They can provide scholars, policy makers and diplomatic practitioners with new ways of knowing peoples, new ways of opening up dialogues among seeming antagonists, and new ways of resolving and preventing conflict. So far many of these local sources of insight have not been taken into account by dominant ways of practicing conflict resolution, security and international diplomacy.
The project brings together leading scholars and highly experienced practitioners in an effort to optimize the potential of these untapped local sources of insight. It critically identifies, evaluates and expands upon a number of diverse local practices for mediating across difference. In doing so, the project enhances our efforts to deal with contemporary regional security and conflict dilemmas.
The key methodological aspect of our approach involves crossing boundaries both within academia and between scholars and culturally knowledgeable community practitioners and leaders. Academics from international relations, conflict resolution, Indigenous studies and anthropology will come together with local conflict resolution advocates and practitioners. They will work on case studies that include Japan, Korea, China, Indonesia, East Timor, Solomon Islands, Bougainville and Indigenous Australia. This new and highly innovative form of collaboration will allow academics to be appropriately challenged by rich cultural traditions. At the same time it provides practitioners with the opportunity to rigorously expand upon their approaches and enhance legitimacy through a scholarly forum.