Explorations: Texts and Contexts
The three day international symposium from March 15-17, 2008 titled
Dialogic Explorations: Texts and Contexts formed part of
an attempt to alter the dominant state centered discourse on conflict
and peacemaking by grounding it within a more holistic and inclusive
framework of human security.
The symposium brought together some sixty scholars, practitioners
from different parts of the world along with WISCOMP Scholar of Peace
fellows, to reflect upon the possibilities and limits of dialogue
as an integral element of democratic practice. The symposium,
engaged with the spaces for dialogue in the context of ethnic political
conflict and more broadly as an approach to augment practices of coexistence
in multicultural societies. There was an attempt to examine why and
to what extent dialogue is increasingly being replaced in the public
and civic space by stridency, discord and sectarianism. With conventional
practices of consensus building increasingly under strain, the limits
and possibilities of dialogue as a philosophy, methodology, process,
strategy, and/or tool was explored.
The symposium focused on the lessons to be learnt from successful
or thwarted dialogue processes from across the world. The
attempt was to squarely locate it within the possibilities of the
democratic and participatory framework and explore how policy and
practice can be optimally impacted by according priority and public
legitimacy to dialogue processes. This was considered relevant both
for conflict transformation and peacebuilding and, more importantly,
conflict prevention in the South Asian region that is increasingly
perceived as conflict prone.
International participants included Harold Saunders (USA),
Mari Fitzduff, ( Ireland), Vasu Gounden ( South Africa), Javed Jabbar
(Pakistan), Fatema Yousuf (Bangladesh), Mohammad Osman (Kenya),
David Malone (Canada) and Visaka Dharmadasa (Sri Lanka). Indian
participants included Aruna Roy, Ranabir Samaddar, Shrivatsa
Goswami, Pratap Bhanu Mehta and several others.