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Transitioning from Violence (TfV)


The Transitioning from Violence (TfV) international consortium catalyzes scholars, policymakers, and practitioners to support communities in transition. The overall programmatic aims include:

  • Co-analyzing and co-producing research and knowledges with and between Global South and Global North scholars, policymakers, and practitioners working internationally at local levels.
  • Facilitating the development of a shared research, policy, and practice agenda to better address persistent challenges and identify existing gaps in knowledge(s).
  • Connecting people working on a common theme, creating communities of practice and research working groups to strengthen locally informed, evidence-based research, policies, and program interventions.

The TfV international consortium is led by Mershon Center’s Associate Director Teri Murphy and a global advisory committee. The thematic foci for 2023-2024 are:

Current Advisory Organizations: United States Institute of Peace, Northern Ireland Executive, the Corrymeela Community, Ulster University, Bradford UniversityPontificia Universidad Javeriana Bogotá 

2023-24 Thematic Focus

We believe rituals can play an important role in supporting the international community’s efforts to stabilize societies experiencing or recovering from conflict. Their power to speak to people on an emotional, psychological, and spiritual level, using their own cultural tradition means that rituals have a unique ability to engage divided communities. While they alone cannot address long histories of violence and deep-seated issues of conflict, they can work as part of a spectrum of interventions linking to sustaining peace, social cohesion, and development.

Our inquiry is designed to help peacebuilding scholars and practitioners document what they are doing, reflect on their practice, grapple with the dilemmas facing them, make their learning accessible to others, and build a bridge to others who work through more formal modes of global security and stability.

Some of the specific objectives for 2023-2024 include:

  • Convening peace practitioners who use formal and informal rituals to encourage social reconciliation after political violence and learning from their practices.
  • Facilitating research/policy working groups to focus on a particular type of ritual such as (re)integration or narrative; co-producing academic research and policy recommendations.
  • Hosting on-going learning platforms and public-facing events.
  • Developing and articulating theories of change through ritual practices, explaining how and why they (might) support social transformation.
  • Exploring if there are general principles, ethics, and strategies to guide ritualizing peace practices.

Is peace measurable? This presentation series brings together researchers, practitioners, and policy specialists across disciplinary backgrounds to explore the diverse and myriad ways in which peace is defined and studied.

Working from an internationally recognized Peace Studies paradigm rooted in the social sciences, Measuring Peace is premised on the belief that durable peace requires more than the absence of active conflict and violence. Rather, an enduring “positive peace” must be collaboratively cultivated through multi-level interventions on local, national, and global scales. Peace-building processes are therefore complex, non-linear, and highly fluid, and require comprehensive social, political, economic, and structural strategies.

Featured speakers in this series will present innovative approaches to the study and practice of peace around the world— and how scholarly research and analysis can help to shape effective policy and intervention strategies on the ground. Topics covered during the 2023-2024 series will include identifying micro-dynamic and everyday indicators of peace, tracking peace accord implementation, tackling paramilitarism, and promoting social healing.

Graduate students who attend at least 2 webinars and the all-day Everyday Peace Indicator workshop (https://www.everydaypeaceindicators.org/) with Dr. Roger MacGinty in March 2024 will receive a Mershon Certificate in Measuring Peace.

Guiding Questions for this Series:

  1. What does it mean to assess peace? What kinds of working definitions and analytical metrics can we set to make “peace” a discrete and measurable research subject?
  2. Which kinds of inter/disciplinary research methodologies are most generative for doing peace research? What are the benefits and limitations of different models?
  3.  How can we productively speak to and across historically- and geographically-specific cases of violent conflict in order to make broader claims about what it means to achieve peace?

Transitioning From Violence: Mershon Center partners with United States Institute of Peace

This summer Mershon’s Transitioning from Violence Consortium partnered with the US Institute of Peace on a two part theory-to-practice workshop among global experts. This followed on TFV’s year-long exploration of the role rituals can play in violent disengagement and (re)integration (VEDR) processes. In May, ten scholars shared related research on case studies from Spain, Yemen, the African Great Lakes region, Canada, Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, and Colombia in a virtual symposium. An in-person meeting, hosted by the Corrymeela Peace Centre in Northern Ireland, followed in June. Twenty policy and practitioner experts, with two academic commentators, spent the week together sharing the ways rituals and related practices have been used to support local truth-telling, social reconciliation, and healing in the aftermath of violent conflict. An edited volume of the case studies and a mini-series focused on policy and practical application are forthcoming through USIP Publications.