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Postcolonial Hierarchies in Peace and Conflict

The network "Postcolonial Hierarchies in Peace and Conflict" is a collaborative project of the Arnold Bergstraesser Institute (Freiburg), the Center for Conflict Studies at the Philipps University Marburg, the University of Bayreuth, and the University of Erfurt. It is an interdisciplinary research initiative funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

The network investigates how historically formed postcolonial hierarchies manifest themselves in contemporary conflict dynamics and what implications this has for sustainable conflict transformation in the future. To do so, the network brings together historical perspectives on the contexts of conflict formation (in particular those shaped by colonialism) with postcolonial research perspectives as well as with methodologies and theories of peace and conflict research.


Call for Abstracts - Special Issue on Decolonizing Transitional Justice


Public Lecture by Prof. Dr. Paul Basu,

who holds the Hertz Chair for the Transdiciplinary Research Area Present Pasts at the University of Bonn and who is presenting as part of the first ThinkLab within the network Postcolonial Hierarchies (BMBF):

Colonial Heritage and Knowledge Production in Conflict

In this keynote presentation Paul Basu reflects on the relationships between colonialism and conflict, and colonialism and the production of knowledge about conflict through the lens of two periods of conflict in the West African state of Sierra Leone. The first period concerns the so-called Hut Tax War and Mendi Uprising of 1898, which followed the declaration of the Sierra Leone hinterland as a British Protectorate. The second, one hundred years later, concerns the 1991-2002 Sierra Leonean civil war, which followed 30 years after Sierra Leone’s independence from British rule. Commissions were appointed in the aftermath of both periods of conflict to investigate the causes and events of the conflicts, and to make sense of the seemingly senseless violence. Basu explores these processes of meaning-making and the colonial and postcolonial hierarchies of value they reveal. What kinds of knowledge inform the work of these commissions and their reports? Whose voices and testimonies are attended to? What purpose do these narratives of conflict serve? What truths do they obscure?

The hybrid lecture will take place on Wednesday, 5th of October 2022 / 19h CET at the University of Freiburg, Lecture Hall 1098 (KG I). The language of the event is English.

In order to join the event online (via Zoom) participants will have to register under this link: lecture_paulbasu


Research questions

The network focuses on three research questions:

These questions will be explored along three main research foci, namely (a) the dynamics of violence, (b) security governance and peacebuilding, and (c) transformative justice.


Research formats

The network organizes exchange between the participating institutions through various formats. Conceptual questions on postcolonial perspectives in peace and conflict research are addressed and discussed in the Think Lab. The goal is to harness and develop postcolonial debates from related academic fields such as sociology, cultural and literary studies, and history, but also from relevant interdisciplinary research fields such as subaltern studies and decolonial theory for peace and conflict studies.

A research colloquium is held every two months to enable an ongoing discussion of the shared topics of the research program and to inform other members of the network how the projects are progressing.

The Virtual Graduate School serves the purpose of networking, especially of those project participants or affiliated researchers at the four participating institutions who are in the qualification phase. Facilitating networking in this space serves to establish sustainable cooperation in the form of an interconnected research context between PhDs and postdocs which is intended to outlast the overall project.

An important part of the network of competence is international networking, especially with guest researchers from the Global South. For this, the network can further rely on associated and internationally oriented networks that already exist at the participating institutions, such as the Cluster of Excellence "Africa Multiple" and the Sibylla Merian Centers in Tunis, Accra and Delhi.

The network's research will not only be presented at workshops and conferences, but will also be discussed with important partners in politics, peace-related development cooperation and civil society. To this end, importance is also given to effectively communicating research results.

An integral part of the network of competence is a Virtual Encyclopedia, which will present key research results, developments of methodology and theoretical innovations from the network and in particular from partners in the Global South in a format that is freely accessible worldwide. The encyclopedia will be a mixture of texts and video and audio contributions.

Participating institutions / Project Pages

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