About the research node Method and Conflict

From news reporting and experts we regularly receive knowledge about current armed conflicts in terms of where something specific has taken place, the specific number of people who have been injured or killed, or who are fleeing – facts and phenomena which have been observed, counted or calculated, and proven to correspond to an external reality. Meanwhile, the human experience of an armed conflict rarely lends itself to description in such exact terms.

Our node takes an interest in the kind of truth about armed conflicts which human experience registers and conveys – the kind of truth which expresses what conflicts mean to those who find themselves directly affected by them.  Why do people participate in wars? What is it that makes their perception of past and present events seem true in both moral and factual terms? Why do people flee? From what do people flee, and towards what do people flee? Conflicts shape our way of looking at history, the present and even the future – just as that which we encounter during a conflict, or while trying to get away from it and make a new future for ourselves, shapes our perception of this conflict, its origin and meaning.

In our node we look closely at the Balkans, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, as well as at our own societies in Western Europe, in an effort to approximate the truths which, as we speak, take form among many people without reaching us through mass media or expert analyses. We explore how choices of investigative and research methods favoring other forms of knowledge result in these truths ending up lost along the way, and we develop methods capable of both accessing and rendering these lost truths intelligible and meaningful to us, along with the reasons that those who observe them as truths have to believe in them and express them.

The research collaboration in our node brings together anthropology, peace and conflict research and history, and explores perspectives in literature as well as quantitative methods in archaeology, in an effort to approach that which represents the content and meaning of contemporary conflicts to both those who participate in them and to those who seek to remove themselves from them. Our objective is to render these truths less invisible, and their effects therefore less difficult to predict, as the future that they lead into comes closer.