How do post-conflict societies deal with the past?


Professor Marianne Elliott (second from left), with fellow panel members, Fergal Keane, Joanne Mariner and Brandon Hamber

The University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies hosted a panel debate to consider how societies emerging from conflict deal with their past.

The expert panel consisted of Fergal Keane, currently Special Correspondent with BBC News covering international affairs and a Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Irish Studies, Joanne Mariner, a senior crisis response advisor for Amnesty International and Professor Brandon Hamber, Director of the International Conflict Research Institute at the University of Ulster.

”Academic rigour must be applied if we are to establish a narrative of fact with the essential historical context”

Professor Marianne Elliott, Director of the Institute of Irish Studies  who chaired the panel, said: “This debate continues the Institute’s long series of lectures and workshops into conflict, reconciliation and peace-building.

“The prestigious panel members drew on their practical involvement in conflict zones to discuss the thorny issues currently facing post-conflict societies and how they deal with the past.

“This was a particularly lively and thought-provoking event which highlighted the need for narratives of what actually happened in conflicts to be produced and in this Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, however flawed, play an important role.”


Award-winning writer, broadcaster and honorary graduate, Fergal Keane was appointed a Professorial Fellow in January

Fergal Keane said: “The challenge of facing and attempting to reconcile different versions of history is common to divided societies everywhere. But are there inherent dangers in trying to create an institutional memory solely out of the testimony given by the victims and perpetrators of conflict.

“Academic rigour must be applied if we are to establish a narrative of fact with the essential historical context.”


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